Will Google have a chance as a consumer electronics company?

The new Pixel and Pixel XL phones are meant to usher in a new era of product convergence that will be unlike anything Google has done so far with its branded gear, including the Nexus line. Google said that it is embarking on this change in order to lock users up tighter to its bread-and-butter software efforts, while the hardware products unveiled tomorrow, svelte as they might be, will serve only as the gateway to Google's search, advertising and information gathering efforts.

This is vertical integration 101, and Google is not shy to admit it wants to duplicate the efforts of companies like Apple or Microsoft in the hardware business. With the Pixels and adjacent paraphernalia, Google is steering the company towards the concept of hardware as a platform for its Google Services, as well as the new Assistant virtual butler that is supposed to usher us in the era of artificial intelligence from the comfort of our homes and phones. 

Google now offers the Home gear, aka talking Assistant, the Chromecast Ultra streamer, and, yes, two new phones so you can take the virtual butler with you on the road as well. These phones are now way more expensive than anything Google has done so far when it comes to handsets, and the other new products are also tagged at market prices. The company is thus trying to position itself as a high-end consumer products maker in the ranks of Apple or Samsung, which for now are the only ones that can charge such sums for their flagships, and still sell millions. 

That is why we wanted to ask you whether you think Google will succeed in its G-branded consumer electronics venture. After all, according to Google's Rick Osterloh and Rishi Chandra: "This is a coming-out party, without a doubt.. We’re no longer going to be shy about what we think is the right answer for us. What we are going to do is give the OEM ecosystem a chance to compete, meaning it’s a fair playing field." What do you think, does Google stand a chance in the personal electronics fight?

Will Google have a chance as a consumer electronics company?

Yes, they've already shown they can do it
Nah, the competition is too strong and established
We'll see, baby steps

Related phones

  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12.3 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2770 mAh(26h talk time)
Pixel XL
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12.3 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3450 mAh(32h talk time)



1. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2488; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Whether they make it or not, I think we should be at least somewhat concerned about the monopolistic nature of Google. They have their own wireless carrier, internet, software, search engines, operating systems, and now hardware. I truly wonder whether there are many consumers out there that would be really comfortable with one company having so many products found in their home. When Microsoft released the Xbox One with the Kinect camera, people had concerns that Microsoft was going to use it to spy in on them. I think what Google has been doing recently goes even beyond that. Especially considering Google is known to hand information over to the NSA.

20. Master_Oogway

Posts: 104; Member since: Oct 06, 2016

If Google wants to stand in this highly competitive smartphone hardware business then they need to design it from inside-out. 100% homemade.

25. Zoenphlux

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 05, 2011

This is from everymac.com "When the original iPhone shipped on June 29, 2007 iFixit disassembled it and learned that the primary processor is an Apple branded Samsung ARM 11 processor running at 412 MHz" Even Apple didn't start engineering their own chip until the iphone 4 based on that article. It's one step at a time, but from what Google is appearing to do I would think this is planned down the line. A special google chip would increase performance a lot. The other thing is that since HTC was involved that would mean Google doesn't have access to the manufacturing or is choosing not to take it that far. Every device they put out is made by someone else using their sourcing and their factories. Apple sources their own parts and works with manufacturers directly. Knowing how businesses work, I would think right now Google is getting in the door with all the sourcing people for parts and soon will shift to doing things on their own. I don't know if Google wants to go that far, but they will have to to really make a 100% homemade phone. Just because Google is massive doesn't mean they know how to do all this yet. The more involved they are with the production of it, the closer they get to the same sources of all the hardware and manufacturing

29. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Apple use Foxcon to assemble mostly top shelve part beside the soc itself. Google use HTC to assemble all top the shelve part. both made the software to run perfectly ( to an extend ) with the hardware they chosen.

24. rnagic

Posts: 215; Member since: Jul 13, 2014

Why is everyone so against that? If the NSA can prevent another mass shooting or even worse by tapping in on people's phones, than I'm all for it.

27. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

He doesn't want the NSA to see all the smut he's been viewing.

3. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Do they have a chance? Absolutely. They have the knowledge and people to make it work. They'll need to adjust their approach though. Google has a tendency to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks, and then drop things that they lose interest in. They can't keep doing that if they want to engage in a consumer centric approach. I'll be honest though, I think that they need to not look at Apple for inspiration. They won't out Apple, Apple. They should be looking really closely at Amazon to figure out their methodology.

8. kryme

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 24, 2013

Google don't need to look at no one... it's google for crying out loud... plus no one has ever done wat they doing... open platform then u trying to compete years after

13. kiko007

Posts: 7521; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Google has NEVER been a hardware company. They need examples to better their capabilities. And you just committed a fallacy in thinking that past accomplishments mean anything in a new arena. I've never once heard "Gee, I think I want a Google Phone" ever in my existence. Their platform is indeed open, but that's probably why they had to resort to this measure in the first place. This will be lucky to make half these projections if we're being completely honest here. Reasons: A) Unproven product line.....B) Unproven Phone brand.......C) Lack of consumer awareness...... D) Hefty price tag for someone not named Apple or Samsung

19. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Google doesn't have a metric ton of experience with hardware, and even less with consumer centric hadrware positioning. Their expertise is in other areas. They've already made missteps with Pixel, so yeah, they do need some additional expertise and guidance.

4. kryme

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 24, 2013

Watch them buy asus or Htc and turn this game up-side-down...

26. Zoenphlux

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 05, 2011

Motorola doesn't agree with you.

5. athos07m

Posts: 137; Member since: Apr 22, 2012

Here's an idea: bring back the 32GB Nexus 5x (rename it to Pixel BC for all I care), and sell is for 200$/€ worldwide. So simple, yet so impossible.

9. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

There'd be no profits in it for The Big G... G'Day!

6. kryme

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 24, 2013

Completely off topic did phonearena do an article on the possible twitter take over by google.... I would love to see google buying twitter

16. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

10. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

No. Other OEM's in less than 3rd place are struggling to make sales. Motorola a company that was once a leader in mobile communications, is all but gone. HTC lost its mojo, because instead of continuing to market the Evo, they went with something else and lost their way. Sony simply just sucks. Making the same phone over and over and over again for the past 5+ years, with only changing the internals and having one of the worse cameras on a mobile device from a company that makes their own cameras and sensors is pathetic. Also going from Nexus to Pixel. Really? These OEM's need to stick with the branding they start with. Nexus was a better name.Pixel just sounds like the movie.I think it was a dumb move. Company's like Microsoft and Intel have stuck with their original brand names for years in their products. The only move MS made I though was dumb, was renaming the Surface Tabletop computer into PixelSense and calling their first major hardware product, the Surface. I though that was confusing at first. But Google isn't going to beat them by just making one phone. If Google wants to seriously compete, they need to make a product that represents google. Every OEM starts off copying the look and style of the iPhone. Other than Samsung, no one has had any success with it HTC has done it and it has failed. LG is failing. Sony's phones just suck even though they are one OE that didn't copy Apple. Moto phones just suck for the same reason. If Google truly wants to compete, they need to bring the Microsoft approach. bring something no one else is doing, in a may that is different that sets a tone for other who may want to follow. No one is going to follow the Pixel, because some already make phones that way. That si why Samsung is having much better success. Even though they copied the iPhone with the first model, they found that didn't work and moved to do better and when the S3 came out, Samsung showed an OEM can do better and the S has been a hit since. I honestly don't think Google is anymore serious about truly competing against OEM's who use Android, no more than Microsoft is serious about competing with Windows OEM. They are just being another option.

32. iC-118

Posts: 260; Member since: Sep 29, 2016

Damn what a loooooong post. Took me ages to read. Blimey, longer than the article. But great post.

11. kiko007

Posts: 7521; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

No. Reason? Because Google has the attention span of a Fruit Fly. Essentially, these phones will be abandoned LONG before the iPhone SE, which came one year before it. I don't know about any of you, but I find Google's policy on security pathetic in all honesty. As a Nexus 6 owner, I've probably received my last update when 7.0 dropped, followed by one year of security patches. My I phones get twice that easily. So, why should I pay a premium on something that will be no doubt outdated by the end of 2018? I get why other OEMs like HTC do the two year update thing, but Google is just being lazy at this point. Moving on to privacy, I picked up a thing or two about Xprivacy here namely from MrElectrifyer (sorry if I misspelled that.......it's early lol). I've been using it on my HTC 10, and I got to say it's nice not having apps all up in my business. Google's services are great but invasive if not downright spyware (grabs tinfoil hat) so I usually try to avoid using them. Which is a shame in all honesty, because I don't think their hardware will be all that different.

14. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Google would be wise to offer an upgrade of your Google account when you buy a Pixel (XL), no more data-mining for the sake of AD revenue. Same thing as they offer with Google for Education and Business. If you pay premium prices for their hardware, they might as well stop collecting data (apart from the data used for their AI and Assistant,etc)

15. kiko007

Posts: 7521; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

That would be nice. However, me being a tinfoil hat enthusiast, I wouldn't believe them if they offered me that. I'm becoming more paranoid with each passing day I suppose.......maybe I should join up with Ron Howard's secret society lol :D.

28. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Hahaha Ron Howard or Ron Hubbard?

30. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Well then dont use an iPhone. you never know you have a security hole until its patched. nice false sense of security. Also no matter what we seen in the media Apple is in bed with US governement as well.

36. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

So, almost lost all my coffee at the first 2 sentences of your post, kiko007. HILAROUS!!

18. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Does Google have a chance? Absolutely. Will it be easy? No. But the time is never better. Aside from Samsung, Apple and Huawei, no other OEM is bringing in any real profits. The other Chinese OEM's consume the market share, but they have razor thin profit margins. With the trouble Samsung is having and people losing faith in their product, it absolutely time for another OEM to step up and move into the big 3 slots. Google has the money and the know how. And whatever they don't know about being a consumer electronics company they can get by simply learning or hiring the person or persons that have the know how. They just hired Amazon's top hardware guy. I'm sure there are more new hires to come. It won't happen overnight but it will happen. When Android first made its debut, no one thought it stood a chance. The big three were BBOS, Symbian and Windows Mobile. And now look at the landscape. BBOS is now BB10 and focused I the enterprise market while BlackBerry shifted to Android. Symbian was killed off by laziness and Elop/Balmer.and Windows Mobile morphed into Windows 10 and still continues to lose market share and money. Android and iOS are king(well... iOS is the queen). It's absolutely the right time for Google to do this. Especially when it's biggest Android partners all have their own proprietary OS's themselves. Whew! Think I channeled my inner Techie XP with that one.

33. iC-118

Posts: 260; Member since: Sep 29, 2016

You almost did. Lol.

23. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

I personally would NEVER buy a google hardware, knowing full well I'm literally paying to be the product myself, and get spied on 24/7 (SOPA bill slowly materializing https://goo.gl/urp7sE ?). That said, the average Joe doesn't seem to give a fudge about privacy (most put every little personal thing on facecrook), so, I can see them succeeding if they up their marketing to the apple level...

31. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yep all question of injecting more money in marketing and creating the same kind of cult thats apple and now Samsung have.

34. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Yeah, all the things I have shut off on my phone is amusing. It creeps me out when I am at my local home improvement store, and then I start getting notifications about reviews and links to their site on my home page. Off goes location services if I am not using maps. I deny so many things. I haven't even made the Google Play gamer name or account yet. Worried how Google will use that to their advantage. I got rid of Facebook app- way to invasive and it pretty much demanded I use it's messenger app. Meanwhile, neither my son or my daughter, both in their 20's, see any of it as a problem. Privacy and security are becoming things of the past.

35. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Sure Google COULD.... but it isn't their priority and they will find out like MS and BlackBerry: That hardware stuff is a huge investment in time and cash. So, no I don't think they will.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.