Pixel and Pixel XL – Google’s new smartphones – are up for pre-orders in India now, giving prospective iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus buyers an excellent alternative. But the new iPhone models are not the only premium handsets that the Google Pixel models can replace – they also happen to be the perfect devices to fill the gap left by the untimely departure of Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
The opportunity is almost too good to be true for Google Pixel and Pixel XL: year after year, Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphones have been the only Android phablets consumers seem to be willing to pay big bucks for, giving a miss to other excellent premium Android devices. And this year’s big Samsung phone – Galaxy Note 7 – is not in action anymore.
Nexus loyalists with deep pockets, who want to know what the hoopla is about, will obviously flock towards Google Pixel XL. But even those Android users who were mildly curious about the new Google phones’ features but going for Galaxy Note 7 anyway now only have the former to go with.
But don’t expect Google Pixel smartphones’ sales to be explosive, since the company is selling them in only a few markets. They won’t be getting the same worldwide release that Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was going to get, so the sales will be relatively small. Sales are likely to be small compared to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as well. Analysts expect Google to sell around 3-4 million units of Pixel and Pixel XL combined – to put that in perspective, though Apple didn’t release launch figures like it does, Apple likely sold more iPhone units over the opening weekend. Nevertheless, Google may be able to beat the estimates – soundly, we may add – if it capitalises on the situation.
But it isn’t all about huge sales figures for Google: it is more about giving users time to adapt to the new Pixel phones. With this market opportunity, Google has a great chance to show off to consumers what the first-generation Pixel phones are capable of. A sustained campaign to educate the masses about what Pixel phones and Google Assistant can do may well be the trick to score big in this arena.
Of course, things are not going to be easy for Google as well: the Pixel phones come with their own set of problems. The first and foremost will be the eventual comparisons to Galaxy Note 7. Loyal Samsung customers will rue the lack of the popular S Pen stylus, while others will point out that Pixel phones’ build quality is good, but nowhere as refined as that of the now-defunct Samsung phablet. Then there will be those who will miss Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) in the camera.
(Also see: Google Pixel, Pixel XL first impressions)
Even those who purchase Google Pixel phones will have to go through the growing pains, since there will be a learning curve to the new Pixel-only features. This includes the users familiarising themselves to Google Assistant and pushing themselves to talk to the digital assistant on a regular basis.
But even with the lack of a stylus and OIS and the learning curve with Google Assistant and Pixel Launcher, Google has a rare opportunity at hand to make Pixel phones a success. If it succeeds in making Pixel phones a hit, it will more likely than not set up the second-generation smartphones for success as well. Let’s see whether the company can grab it with both hands and ensure that the new phones don’t go the way of the Android One project.