Google Pixel, the company’s ‘Made by Google’, smartphones range has finally been unveiled and with the new devices, the company is all set to capture a decent slice of the market share. That Apple iPhones will be the biggest competitors of the Pixel smartphones, is an obvious conclusion, and one that gains merit after seeing the price band in which Google will launch them and the features they pack. But more than Apple, analysts feel that it is Samsung that has found a new reason to worry! Google has launched the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones at a time when Samsung is facing global trust deficit after it was forced to recall its Galaxy Note 7 range. The latest offering from Samsung had a major battery defect, leading to incidents of the smartphone catching fire. This is not to say that Apple iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus won’t feel the heat from Pixel smartphones.
But, first let’s look at the features that new Pixel phones come packed with. The Pixel phones will be available in screen sizes of 5 and 5.5 inch (12.7 cm and 14 cm). The hardware specifications of Google Pixel include; aluminum unibody and polished glass combination, HD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad core 2*2.15 GHz/2*1.6 GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 12.3 MP rear camera and an 8 MP front camera. The glass on the back features the Pixel Imprint, a fingerprint sensor. The ships with the newest Android operating system, Android 7.1 Nougat. The phones will get software and security updates as soon as they’re available, directly from Google.
Google claims that the Pixel phones charge “very fast” and can run up to 7 hours with just 15 minutes of charge. The smartphones come in three colours of Very Silver, Quite Black and a limited edition for the US only, Really Blue. The phones will come in variants of 32 GB and 128 GB. Google is also offering free unlimited storage for original quality photos and videos at full resolution in Google Photos. This last bit may actually help Google steal away some potential buyers of iPhones. Says Peter Richardson, the Research Director for Tech Strategies at Counterpoint Research, “Pixel looks to have a very good camera. However the differentiator is the free, unlimited, cloud storage. Something Apple cannot currently compete with.”
According to Richardson, what sets the Pixel devices apart are the Google Assistant, good camera and unlimited photos storage, and the inclusion of Virtual Reality. “I do think Pixel will be a strong competitor for Apple’s iPhones, but is likely to be an even more formidable competitor for Samsung’s premium handsets. Apple is relatively secure in terms of market share among existing users of iOS-based devices – that is existing iPhone users,” Richardson told FE Online. “However devices like Google’s Pixel represents a new and, for existing Android players, a frighteningly accomplished set of devices. Google is not new to smartphone hardware – it’s Nexus devices have always garnered a small but enthusiastic following. With Pixel, Google is taking a deeper hold of the design of the hardware. We believe the hardware integration and manufacturing is being done by HTC in more of contract manufacturing role than it has played before. Similar to how Foxconn manufactures for Apple,” he added. “So in summary – while Apple would be wise to take notice, Samsung should be deeply concerned – especially after the unfortunate Galaxy Note 7 battery issue,” he concludes.
Jan Dawson Analyst at Jackdaw Research told Reuters that a premium Android strategy is “really a strategy to take market share from Samsung”. “Obviously Google doesn’t want to explicitly compete with its own partners, but this product is much more likely to compete with Samsung than Apple,” Dawson said.
Brian Blau, Research VP at Gartner begs to differ. While acknowleding that the Pixel phone is a ‘great device’, he said that Google’s phone won’t reach significant market share. “The Pixel phone is certainly a great device and should compete well against the other premium phones in terms of features, except that Google’s phone won’t reach significant market share, which are dominated by Samsung, Apple and a few Chinese handset makers. Having the Assistant on the phones will help them, but ultimately Google needs an active ecosystem of their own devices and technology, and they need both device partners and app developers to turn their ecosystem into an even bigger value proposition,” he told FE Online.