Google introduced two brand new Pixel phones along with other products last week. At this point, there’s no question about what Google can do when it comes to software. The crown is on Google’s head. But to keep that crown in place, Google has had to enter the uncharted territory of hardware, and show the world how well its software plays with modern hardware. Google has been trying just that for several years with the Nexus phones, and with the first generation of Pixel phones in 2016 which replaced Nexus. Over its lifetime, Nexus created a fan base who enjoyed pure Android experience without having to empty their wallet.
Unlike Nexus, Pixel phones are quite expensive. Google had a long tradition of offering affordable phones with high quality software experience with Nexus until last year. Google departed that well-received tradition with the Pixel lines. Nexus line-up was a role model for Android. They broke the popular belief that exceptional user experience doesn’t always have to come from the phones with exceptional prices, and I mean it to be expensive. Nexus offered groundbreaking innovations with a really cheap price which was affordable for many. I had a chance to use a couple of them and was impressed with the experience.
Those good old days are gone, and now we’re left with some overpriced Pixels that have evolved from Nexus. I agree that Pixels have some added features and a camera that unlike any others but don’t agree with the notion that those added features are enough to justify the price hike. Perhaps Google is copying Apple’s pricing strategy for iPhone here. But how come Google forgot that no one but Apple makes iPhone. Apple has a huge leverage on this. From the beginning, Apple created a (false) perception among the consumers that anything expensive is better and it carries a status. We’re still buying into that idea today, and Google knows that better than anyone.
The problem here is unlike Apple, there are hundreds of manufacturers that make Android phones. Thousands of Android phones are released each year. One of the amazing things about Android is that almost any Android phones, cheap or expensive, can run the same apps and services and yet offer a diverse experience. With Pixel phones, Google’s not only competing with Apple but also with hundreds of other Android manufacturers. My point here is that Google didn’t have to make Pixel phones any more expensive that Nexus. Google could still make plenty of money while keeping the Pixels’ prices reasonable.
From popular reviews, I’ve seen the pair of the new Pixel phones. The smaller version of the duo doesn’t belong to 2017. The physical design makes it incompatible with today’s consumers. I see that the bigger version is better in design and also carries a higher price tag. It’s reasonable to say that the both phones are overpriced by $100-150 compare to the most expensive Nexus. One should note that the increased competition in the smartphone market brought the overall price down significantly with a few exceptions.
So, why are Google’s hardware increasingly becoming expensive? What happened to the Google that we used to know. One that used to be offering quality products with affordable price. One that put more care to user satisfaction than profit. One that once carried the motto “Don’t be evil.”