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What do Pixel phones mean for Google’s Android partners?

Jason Cipriani | Oct. 7, 2016
Now that Google has declared itself a hardware company, designing its smartphone line from the inside out, should its partners be worried?

Granted, Google and Verizon will likely put a lot of money behind marketing the Pixels (Google already is) , but upgrade purchases inside a carrier store just won’t be possible for those not on Verizon. It’s not hard to imagine a customer deciding between the Galaxy S7 Edge and the Pixel XL, seeing a demo of Google Assistant, and being swayed to the Pixel. Not having shelf space in AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile stores is only going to hurt the Pixels.

Educating consumers about Google Assistant isn’t only going to sell more phones, but it’s going to push artificial intelligence even further into the mainstream—if Assistant lives up to Google’s promises, that is.

Microsoft is doing the same thing… kind of

Google’s approach of designing high end devices, and in turn competing with its partners, isn’t new.

Microsoft is already doing it with its Surface lineup, framing its Surface line as something Windows’ partners should strive to replicate, not as a direct competitor to its partners.

Hung agrees, telling Greenbot: “The Pixels represent more of a reference design for Google’s partners to emulate, similar to Microsoft with its Surface Pros in the tablet market.”

Although, Microsoft isn’t keeping a headlining feature to itself, in the way Google is currently limiting Assistant to the Pixels. Android partners will gain access to Assistant at some point in 2017, but until then the Pixel exclusive is a distinct advantage for Google partners.

At the end of the day, Google is putting pressure on the entire Android ecosystem, forcing its partners to innovate beyond refreshing hardware designs and throwing in a couple custom apps for good measure. Arguably, it’s the best thing Google could be doing for Android at the moment.

Ideally, the ability to buy a premium Android phone at retail or carriers with no bloatware and timely updates would force other makers to deal with these two common frustrations.

However, Until Google pushes its Pixel lineup into all major carrier stores, in front of more consumers on a daily basis, its partners don’t have too much to worry about.


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