Google Pixel 4 might not sell well in India

Google Pixel 4 | Source: 9to5Google

Amid the privacy controversies and burgeoning talks to break up tech tycoons, we may fall in a love-hate relation with Google. Nevertheless, we all use a plethora of its services day in and day out that are simply indispensable from our digital lives.

Google is the undisputed king of online search, digital ads and has an indomitable growth track in the software and services field. But not so much in hardware, which is equally important for building a holistic ecosystem. Time and again it has failed to mimic Apple and Samsung’s success in hardware.

The sales figures of the Pixel smartphone series, as well as discontinued hardware products like Pixel Slate, Nexus Player, and Google Glass state my point. Even the Nexus smartphone lineup, although were popular among enthusiasts, had failed to become a household name like the iPhones or the Galaxy series.

Granted, a fellow biggie viz. Microsoft too had its fair share of failure with Windows smartphone and Zune. Even the surface has had stumbling blocks to success. But, it was able to turn the tide with iterative improvements.

But ever since the Nexus lineup was depreciated, Google’s mobile endeavor has been slow in picking up pace. The Pixel brigade is soon to unveil its new recruits — the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL and if history is any indication, I’m a little worried for them.

If you bear with me, I will give you a few reasons why I lack confidence in the Google hardware competency. And believe me, this pessimism is coming from a pure Android enthusiast and a full-blown tech-head, who simply want the new Google phones to overcome these issues.

So, let’s not beat around the bush anymore and get right into it.

Here are the 4 reasons why Google Pixel 4 series might not sell well in India:

1) Meek Marketing

Leaked Camera Samples from Google Pixel 4 | Source: 9to5Google
Leaked Camera Samples from Google Pixel 4 | Source: 9to5Google
Leaked Camera Samples from Google Pixel 4 | Source: 9to5Google

Take a quick survey and a major portion of the population might stand clueless about the Google product portfolio. How many Pixel owners have you come across so far? In contrast, every tom, dick and harry either own or for the very least know about the Samsung and Apple catalog.

We agree Google is fairly new to the scene compared to the crowd. However, it’s ironical that the digital ad king is pretty meek in marketing their crown jewel. Pixels are undoubtedly one of the best camera phones. Yet, how many “Shot on Pixel” campaigns have you seen?

Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR)shares my sentiment. He says,

When compared to other brands operating in the premium segment, including the likes of Apple, Samsung or a OnePlus, the Google Pixel’s brand salience lags behind. Google absolutely needs to nail and distill the Pixel value proposition for consumers. The company should price its new Pixel phones more aggressively, and should attract consumers to switch over with new, attractive, and viable trade-in schemes.

Ergo, Google needs to double down on their marketing efforts underlining its unique value proposition, if not for anything else.

2) Modest Design

Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL | Source: Techcrunch

Here’s an analogy that’ll precisely explain what I want to say — Customers don’t look for the best value for money in the luxury car segment. Rather a car with an aspirational value which not only gives direct gratification to the buyer but also indirect gratification in terms of the attention it commands.

I understand design is subjective. I don’t mind a bezel bound display if it’s put to the right use. For instance, Pixel 4’s forehead houses the Soli radar chip for Motion Sense and Face Unlock features. That’s some juicy stuff for sure. But, alas it might not even ship to some countries.

Put differently, what I mean to say is that the Pixel series lacks the oomph that the competitors bring to the table. iPhone 11 Pro’s quirky camera panel, outrageously curved displays of Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus phones, etcetera stand out in the crowd. Even if we keep aside the flamboyant factors, Pixels miss the polish and finesse of iPhones, Notes, and Mates. And let’s not even talk about the ugly notch gate of Pixel 3XL, stale displays of Pixel 2XL, the faulty microphone of Pixel 1, and poor video quality across the board.

Maybe I should leave past behind and trust Google will usher in exceptional phones this time around. Let’s see.

3) Fragmented Ecosystem

Your main entry point to the Google ecosystem is via their software such as Google Search, Chrome OS, and Android. I feel the Google ecosystem is functioning for sure, but to call it seamless would be a stretch.

Take this Android distribution dashboard for instance:

Data collected during a 7-day period ending on May 7, 2019.
Any versions with less than 0.1% distribution are not shown.

This illustration speaks for itself about the alarming Android fragmentation issue. Also, Google makes Android and its own hardware bags a tiny slice of this pie. Then there is a question on the interoperability amidst the different hardware, software and other constituents of the meshwork. Still, the cross-platform support between Android and Chrome OS isn’t fully fleshed out.

Then there is a horde of killedbygoogle items that would leave you perplexed. Thus, for a novice or even an early adopter, newer Google products and services tend to trigger a lukewarm response.

Failed attempts might get a pass in terms of cost and public perception in the case of software. But defunct hardware will be a lot more taxing.

Hey Google, I hope you get your stuff together. 🤞

4) Tough Market

India Smartphone Market Share Q2. 2019 | Source: CounterPoint

Google’s not even in the charts! 🤔 Yes, the same is true for global markets.

Google parent company Alphabet revealed that sales of the Pixel phone had dropped from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019.
It cites “pressures in the premium smartphone industry” for the decline in sales. Moreover, the blame is also pointed at “heavy promotional activity” by the competitors.

Google isn’t one of the top 5 smartphone companies in the world.
Google isn’t one of the top 5 smartphone companies in the world.

And we get that smartphone sales, in general, are just having a tough time. Analyst firm IDC reports that smartphone shipments for Q1 2019 were down by 6.6% from the same period, the previous year.

One could attribute the trivial iterative upgrades as a cause for this trend. While hedge fund firms like Maverick Capital are dialing in straight, tech giants are finding different revenue streams as a backup. For instance, Apple is diving deep into services, Samsung and Huawei are betting big on 5G, semiconductors, and new device categories like Foldables, Mixed Reality gears, etc.

The aforementioned transition would definitely take time. So, Google need not hasten. Instead, it should focus on the price to performance ratio and cap the price tag in a way that excites the prospective buyer.

Take the Pixel 3a and 3a XL for example. This recent foray into the affordable bracket did work for Google.

With the launch of Pixel 3a in May, overall Pixel unit sales in Q2 grew more than 2x year-over-year,” Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google said in an earnings call.

Rick Osterloh | Source: The Verge

Just read what Google Hardware VP Rick Osterloh said in an interview with The Verge in late 2016 -

We certainly aren’t going to have enormous volumes out of this product. This is very first innings for us.” Google’s metric of success for Pixel won’t be whether it picks up significant market share, but whether it can garner customer satisfaction and form retail and carrier partnerships that Google can leverage for years to come.

You see. Customer Satisfaction is the underlining mantra. Speaking of which, Pixel after-sales support isn’t promising either, at least in India. Nonetheless, initiatives like the company’s prompt 24/7 On-device customer support hopefully makes a difference.

Google Pixel 4 | Source: 9to5Google

Aaaannd…. that’s all.

Phew, IKR! I whined a lot. Hahaha. 😅

But, on a serious note, I wish Google has addressed these issues. After all, this is Google we are talking about. Services are without a doubt, Google’s strongest suit. Then there is the Google Assistant, which is getting closer to singularity with every passing day.

Astral Photography during night from the Google Pixel 4
Astral Photography during night from the Google Pixel 4
Astral Photography during the night from the Google Pixel 4 | Source: 9to5Google

Among other things, Pixels are your best bet when it comes to a smartphone experience with the magic of AI at the forefront. They commit to a pure Android delicacy with a myriad of customization options, fast software updates, and best-in-class photography prowess.

Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL will launch on October 15
Google Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL will launch on October 15
Google Pixel 4 Times Square Ad | Source: 9to5Google

The new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL might very well be the most leaked phones ever. Nevertheless, the leaks and rumors have been heartening for sure. I have marked my calendar for the big event on October 15. If you cannot sit tight till then, here’s a preview with everything you need to know about the new Pixels.

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