With The Dawn Of The Pixel, The Era Of The Nexus Comes To An End

Google wants to take control of the smartphone by manufacturing its own hardware.

05/10/2016 4:13 PM IST | Updated 05/10/2016 4:50 PM IST
Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

Google has a knack for killing popular products at their peak. The search giant has done it before with Google reader and Google Talk. At yesterday's event, it was time for the dawn of the Nexus line of phones.

The Nexus program started with HTC's Nexus One in 2010. The idea was to give developers and other device makers an idea of the latest Android version's harmony with the hardware. But with evolution, the devices became more consumer facing. The most popular of them all was clearly Nexus 5 which was made by LG.

Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 carried the banner of 'affordable flagships' for Google. But in the last few years with Nexus 6, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X the company clearly targetted the premium segment of customers. A metal body and front facing speakers with a high price point is not certainly for the reference device.

There are a lot of thoughts behind the Pixel phones. First is, of course, taking the iPhone mano-a-mano. For years Google has been fighting with the Cupertino smartphone giant on operating system level.

Of course, there were the inevitable comparisons with the iPhone. But most of the times the Nexus fell into a different category altogether. But with the Pixel phones, it is an outright battle between Google and Apple. Even the price point of the Pixel phone is matching iPhone's.

"We didn't want to have any compromises in the user experience and so that's why we went to the premium end," Rick Osterloh, the chief of Google's newly formed hardware division told the Verge.

While there would be a lot of arguments made that iPhone's top-end pricing is due to the whole experience and design it has to be seen that if Google can create that kind of experience. A lot of people have been criticizing the design already.

Beck Diefenbach / Reuters
Rick Osterloh, SVP Hardware at Google

"We certainly aren't going to have enormous volumes out of this product. This is the very first innings for us," Osterloh said.

To have a complete Google experience, the company has included a ton of features into the new smartphone. First of all, it is Google Assistant-integrated. Assistant is a big bet for Google in terms of machine learning, artificial intelligence and customer experience.

Eric Risberg/AP
The new Google Pixel phone

CEO Sunder Pichai started the keynote highlighting how much Google has done in the area of machine learning and how they are putting it to use with Google Assistant. The search giant is aiming to create a parallel system powered by AI which can be present anywhere. Imagine using services such as Uber or Zomato without needing an app!

Along with this, Google is providing round the clock customer support to the Pixel customers. The company doesn't have a physical presence like Apple in terms of stores so they'd have to partner with a lot of entities. The deal with Verizon suggests that company is ready to go all commercial in terms of mobile phones.

In Other features, Google is offering unlimited photo storage at maximum resolution for the Pixel customers with some additional smarts to the camera.

Beck Diefenbach / Reuters
Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google understands that the smartphone market has reached a point where most of the phones are just iterative updates and now the brands would matter. In coming years, a lot of the companies would have to scale down because of the global saturation. Even Apple faced a decline in the iPhone sales this year.

There are questions as always about how the Android device makers will take this. But Google is assuring the full support to them as always.

The company's strong suit has always been providing software and web services. And Pixel phone will allow the tightest integration with exclusive features. Nexus line was to show how Android is done and sell those at an affordable price. Pixel will be a step towards showing how great exclusive features you can add on top of it to make a premium smartphone.

Hands on with Google's Pixel and Pixel XL phones

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