Why is Google failing in the Premium Smartphone market?
Updated: Jun 28
Whenever you enter a gadget store, there are so many phones at the display. Samsung’s table on the left, Apple’s table on the right. But have you ever noticed that small table at the corner where no one usually goes? Yep, that’s Google. Apple, Samsung, One Plus, and Xiaomi are some names that come to mind when a person considers buying a smartphone, here in India. But Google is not a new name. So why doesn’t it sell as much as it’s competitors? Why is it failing at the premium smartphone market?
Google took off in the smartphone market by releasing the NEXUS ONE which was manufactured by HTC. It was the rival to the iPhone that Nokia and Blackberry could never be. The Nexus line up was a success and was appreciated by the consumers till their last phone the NEXUS 6P.
Nexus line up was all about a google phone that is manufactured by another company. When Google announced the end of the Nexus series people were not particularly happy but we're also excited for the new Pixel line up which Google marketed as MADE BY GOOGLE. The first pixel phones, the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL had a lot of flaws and shortcomings but it was still pretty amazing. The phone was silly fast, the operating system was smooth and simple and stock and the camera were simply the best. It didn’t turn any heads with its looks but using that phone daily was a delight. Unfortunately, for a brand’s first product it was on the pricier side. Not many people will spend a lot of money on a brand that has just entered the market. Why do I call it a new brand? Because the nexus line up had phones with Google’s latest software and vision but wasn’t made by Google. They were made by LG, HTC, Moto, Huawei. So instead of spending that kind of money on a brand’s first product, people just went ahead and bought an iPhone or a Galaxy Note.
The second-pixel phone was far behind in terms of design and looks. Google also removed the headphone jack in this one when just a year back they were mocking Apple for doing the same. The phone had some serious issues with the display which isn’t acceptable for a ₹73,000 smartphone. Don’t get me wrong, it was actually a great phone but the flaws were in the crucial areas which are the basic criteria for the consumers to make a buying decision like display, design, etc. By this time these phones were also left behind in the terms of performance by One plus phones.
Pixel 3 was a great phone and actually like a small but significant improvement and upgrade to the Pixel 2. But that hideous notch on that Pixel 3XL was such a turnoff that most people just avoided buying the phone. Pixel 3 had the best camera on any smartphone yet again, great speakers, wireless charging, night sight, wide-angle front camera, and some other great features but it still didn’t sell because of the increase in the price and that notch!
I love google; their phones are great to use. I’ve daily driven the first and the third generation of the pixel phones and they were amazing. Fingerprint on the back of the phone, super-smart google assistant, google apps working together, no bloatware, unlimited photos, and video storage, a phenomenal camera with quick camera toggle, and many more features like these, as basic as they are, made my daily experience really good. And I had nothing against Google until they released the pixel 4.
Pixel 4 has been criticized by the majority of people for numerous reasons and actually correct reasons. The smartphone industry is constantly making hard efforts for bezel-less displays and then there’s google adding a soli radar sensor to the top of their phone. I mean maybe it would have been great if it worked properly but it didn’t. The point is that it is a great feature but most people won’t use it in their daily lives. There was no wide-angle lens, instead, they added a telephoto lens which was actually no good as Google’s computational photography was great with single-lens optical zoom photos. They added a 90hz high refresh rate display but thanks to that the battery life on the phone has reportedly been terrible. I’m a fan but it’s hard to buy or recommend a pixel 4, even for me.
After Pixel 3, Google released a budget smartphone called Pixel 3a which sold more than all of Google’s flagship phones altogether. It had the same great camera, mediocre specs, and an intuitive operating system which is enough for many people. But most importantly the phone felt complete and was priced right.
Google has made a ton of bad decisions while making these smartphones and the graph has been going down. It’s basically a software company trying to show-off it’s latest and greatest developments but hardware is the place where it actually sucks. If Google doesn’t start making good hardware and good overall decisions for its phone, the day might not be far where we stop seeing pixel phones. Honestly, their software is so good that if integrated with good hardware it can become one of the best smartphones and we hate to see this potential getting wasted just because of a few bad decisions.
Would you consider buying a Google phone? Tell us in the comments below.