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Five reasons why the Pixel event was disappointing

Five reasons why the Pixel event was disappointing

The expectations of the Pixel event on October 4 were high. Google presented some highlights, for example the high-end smartphones Pixel and Pixel XL - although admittedly these are rather expensive. There were however some disappointments, not only concerning the price.

There are several issues Google really should have addressed, but didn’t. What did the Pixel presentation reveal about Google's current strategy and what does this mean for us as users?

Only Samsung can make real flagships

With the Pixel smartphones, Google has presented two very powerful high-end devices. High build quality, good performance and a good camera are all plus points. Fast Android updates are still only available from Google. Nevertheless, real highlights remain scarce. Google Assistant is a very exciting feature, but is that really enough to justify a sale price above $600?

I have my doubts. Even if Google did get it right in terms of the camera, Samsung is still well ahead with its Galaxy S7 (Edge) and especially with the Note 7. OK, the Note 7 hasn't exactly been a lucky charm for Samsung, but apart from the battery problem, which can be resolved, the Note 7 has many more features and is still cheaper than most Pixel variants: stylus with associated apps, waterproof build, micro SD slot or also the Always-On Display. And the design just looks more elegant.

Google is going for it and Assistant is its ticket

Two weeks prior to the Pixel event, Hiroshi Lockheimer tweeted that something groundbreaking was imminent. What he actually meant with that Tweet still remains his secret. Perhaps he meant Sundar Pichai talking about "Artificial Intelligence first", which will replace the "Mobile First" paradigm. The Assistant is the most promising thing we've seen from Google in fall 2016.

What then is "AI-first"? Today, we open the Calendar app if we want to see our planned appointments and events. We open Messenger if we want to send a message. Google Assistant is supposed to do this through voice command. It can book a table at a restaurant or remind us of important upcoming events.

Mobile First also means that websites will be designed with smartphone browsing in mind – and all developers can make this motto their own. "AI-first" however, is Google’s own motto, which is limited to a few access points: Allo, Google Home or a Pixel phone for example. And if one does not integrate their services into the Google Assistant, (can’t integrate or doesn’t want to integrate) they will no longer be a part of the AI First universe. This gives Google enormous power as the key-holder for regulating access to services and information. And privacy has already perished under a sea of ​​algorithms and convenience features. Of course everything mentioned here also goes for Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana or Apple's Siri.

Google in panic mode: Assistant might not be good enough

Through Google Home, Assistant has found a home outside the Pixel phones. But Google is not the first company to place its digital assistant in the living room. Amazon did this some time ago. Google is likely to be quite shocked about Amazon's Alexa: in September, Amazon presented the Echo speaker for the UK and Germany. In a direct comparison, Amazon’s Echo is far ahead of Google’s Assistant: The voice of Alexa is more natural, as far as can be heard in a demo comparison of Echo and Home. I don't have any details about Google Home’s speech recognition however, without much training Echo is able to recognize a command, even when given by different people and therefore voices. Google's voice recognition via Android, however, is only moderately accurate - Amazon is more than likely going to have an advantage here.

Although Google is sitting on a huge mountain of data from its digital assistant, the company is running out of time: when compared with Google Home, Amazon arguably has the better product. And Apple? Apple appears to be a defender of data privacy but by using “Differential Privacy”, it is gathering more data than ever before and is feeding Siri with it. Google can boast enormous achievements in the field of artificial intelligence but at the end of the day, Google could be left empty-handed.

Google's organized hardware and chaotic software

Rick Osterloh is the head of Google's hardware department. He was the one who brought the ambitious but commercially disastrous Ara Project to an end. It is clear that he ensures a well-designed sophisticated line for the products. Google is now focused on promisingly successful projects and is foregoing an overly pragmatic and technical look. The almost playful color names of the Pixel phones "Very Silver", "Really Blue" and "Quite Black" stem from there.

Given this stringent hardware philosophy, it’s hard to imagine that Osterloh is happy about Google's software strategy. The current chaos with Messenger is difficult to be enthusiastic about for anyone who wants to sell a smartphone experience. We know that their developers can do better from services like Google Docs, Gmail and Google Photos.

Allo is on the brink of disappearing

Two weeks ago, Google Allo finally made an appearance and for the first time ever, we were able to experience the Google Assistant live. And what was one of the key features of the Pixel phones? The Assistant. What could be more appropriate than to give more attention to the Messenger? Google Allo was only mentioned once or twice, on the sidelines. In contrast, Google Duo was revered in a longer speech.

Even if Google meant to present the Assistant at the event as if it were a Pixel exclusive feature, Allo should have at least earned a place next to the Duo icons. But it was nowhere to be seen. Although Allo is pre-installed on Pixel phones, it is likely to run out of steam – particularly with weakening download figures. The Pixel event has strengthened my belief that Allo will have a hard time. Duo, however has the potential to be a surprise success.

What conclusions have you drawn from the Pixel event? Write your thoughts in the comments!

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  • I've had the Pixel for a few days now. It's very zippy and there's a cool toggle between the 2 most recently used apps, and there's actually Google support chat right in the phone. However, I am very disappointed in such a lack of features. For example, there is no privacy features (other than incognito web) so I can't hide any photos at all, or apps. It's way too cumbersome to disable an app. Also, there's minimal ring tones and even less decent choices. There's also no way to differentiate notification sounds like txt vs e-mail.. so, I can't tell (by the sound) if I just got a txt or an email, etc... these are functions of YESTERDAY's cell phones.. So, to pay 750 bucks for the Pixel 128 MB, well, I'm just very, very underwhelmed at what my money got. I like the size, the camera, the fact that it's a Google phone without Verizon bloatware but, geez, these simple functions are non-existent. Although I'll be giving it more thought and also allow my muscle-memory to get a little more accustomed to the controls, etc, I'm thinking I'm going to likely return it and hold out for the Galaxy S8. I really like the pixel in some ways very much but almost insulting to spend THAT much money and, apart from Google assistant, feel as though I have yesterday's technology is purely disappointing.

  • except price everything is fine......u r the same who criticise samsung also at the launch time of s7.....removable battery is ur all time drama for two years now

  • I'm really disappointed with the actual physical design.

    That 2 tone back is atrocious. Sorry but both the Note 7 and Iphone 7 look much better in terms of hardware.

  • steve Oct 8, 2016 Link to comment

    Rope a dope.

  • 5 most disappointing things? how can you say "aside the price"? because that's the top 2. so
    1) price in general
    2) price in europe is 27,5% higher than in US. WTF.
    3) Google Home is quite large and you still need several of these throughout your home, do you see 8 of these all over your home?
    4) Google Home and Google Wifi are seperate devices,
    5) WTF about the 27,5% price difference for Europe????

  • Let's forget the disappointment many of us Nexus enthusiasts feel and look at Pixel from the perspective of the Joebagofdonuts consumer who walks into a Verizon store to buy a phone. Given the choice of the Samsung 7 offerings and the iPhone, which offer water resistance, brand recognition, similar price, and better looks, how many will walk out of the store with a Pixel or Pixel XL device? I think Google blew it: it abandoned its Android enthusiast base and has nothing to offer the average consumer. Good job Google.

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Oct 8, 2016 Link to comment

    Google's played this brilliantly,
    for years they've had the biggest and best company's all over the world spending billions developing android hardware and software.. billions of dollars of there own (our) money and then paying Google for the privilege to use android...lol
    Sat through the show and realised we are now all influenced by AI..there is no going back...
    Game over, Google really can't lose..
    who can now do successful mobile without any of Google's software..?
    Apple, Samsung, Sony, etc without Google..? not gonna happen..
    I buy into Google one way or another every time I do search or voice enquiry, every time I turn my smartphone on..
    I'm not buying Pixel... just yet, far too much of that current rrp is paying for Google's advertising and some assistance software that will find its way into other androids in 6 months time.

  • I'm all for Pixel.

    The assistant we've seen in Allo is stupid for now and conference wasn't as quite monumental as Lockheimer hyped, but Google's home-made flagship is exactly what we needed.
    I live in the most iOS-ridden country in the world and want to show ppl the tremendous leap Android has made for last few years. I have iPhone as well and simply put, Android's much better now. But there has been no "arthodox" alternative for everyone because each OEMs esp. Samsung has cons (as well as pros) such as flashy skin, snail update...

    Pixel is (allegedly) the most snappiest phone ever made and has (supposedly) the best camera, and will (hopefully) get longest OS updates. If it were a lot cheaper, it'd put OEMs to death.
    If iPhone or Note worth that price, Pixel does.
    AI? We'll see... :-)

    Deactivated AccountRideau

    • I don't know how promptly Verizon will push updates. AT&T is horrible. Even if I were a Verizon customer, I'd buy the phone unlocked and get updates directly from Google. That said, I am not a fan of this phone and will not purchase it.

    • I think that Google missed its price point by $150-$200. Not even tempted to replace my 6P with a Pixel,but I might get the Axon 7.

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