Does Google think its Nexus can compete with iPhones?
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
Google has been following me around mercilessly of late.
Yes, even more than usual.
I’m familiar with the notion that, from its mountain view, Google might try to observe everything I do online. However now the Googlies are there during every TV show I watch.
Over the last 10 days, every NFL game and every MLB playoff game seems to have been adorned with an ad for the new Nexus 5X. I thought this might have been some sort of closely-targeted aberration.
But then I turned to “The Voice.” And there the Google Nexus followed me too.
The ad itself isn’t frightfully memorable. The new phone is floating through space with cheery, relatively relaxed music in the background. A few product attributes are tossed out there for solidity.
It’s elegant enough, but not as striking as, say, the elegantly named Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.
Still, this seems serious, whereas in the past the Nexus brand has appeared undefined. There was a time when you could only buy Nexus phones online. Even the Nexus 5, launched in 2013, offered some fine uplifting weepiness but seemed to disappear fairly quickly.
This time, the Nexus 5X wants to hang around and even share your nachos.
Why might this be?
Google has never had great success with hardware. Essential design lovability (or, perhaps taking hardware seriously enough) seemed to pass it by. (Disclosure: I have a Nexus 7 tablet. It’s pleasant, but if it left me I wouldn’t chase after it.)
This time around, CNET reviewer Sean Hollister described the Nexus 5x as pleasantly lightweight and affordable. I didn’t detect him leaping out of his trousers and performing a riverdance about it, however.
Might, though, Google now believe that it needs to offer its own strongly-marketed hardware to go with its Android software?
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered a chilling observation on Friday. He said that Microsoft was the only true long-term competition for Apple in both software and hardware. He said of Cupertino: “No one else is trying to compete with them any more, really, seriously in hardware.”
Does this additional invasion of my time and yours by Google suggest that the company feels it has to try a little harder in hardware? Google did not respond to request for comment.
New holding company Alphabet has run off to go and play with futuristic goals — such as preventing us from ever driving again. The Google arm is left to commune with commercial reality.
This, as Microsoft’s launch of the intriguing Surface Book shows, means that Google may have to compete with partners, rather than wait for them to come up with something that will intrigue the public.
The problem is that when your hardware has never intrigued the public in any kind of mass, spirited way, you’re coming from further back than the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If Apple wants to cheer Google up, it might point to recent research from investment bank Piper Jaffray: 74 percent of teens want their next phone to be an iPhone.