Google Pixel 4: Confirming rumours may not be enough to woo customers
Google will launch Pixel 4 and 4 XL smartphones tomorrow along with a 5G version. Google is also expected to unveil Pixel Watch and a slew of updated home products like Nest series of devices.
While Pixel smartphones demonstrate Google's willingness to more tightly integrate hardware and software like Apple, they have not been a massive sales success story for now owing to the lack of a solid strategy to beat the rivals, industry analysts said on Monday.
Google is set to announce two new Pixel smartphones -- Pixel 4 and 4 XL along with a 5G version -- a rumoured Pixel Watch and a slew of updated home products like Nest series of devices.
Google Pixel currently has a minuscule global market share despite arriving on the scene in 2016. In the second quarter of 2019, it had less than 0.1 market share in the Indian premium smartphone segment.
According to Frank Gillett, Vice President and Principal Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, Google needs to do more than just confirm rumours of the Pixel 4 and its list of flagship phone innovations at its launch event on October 15.
"Keeping the Pixel as a lighthouse Android smartphone to challenge and inspire Android OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners won't be enough. Google needs to update their Nest line of devices. We expect to see updates to the Mini smart speaker, at a minimum, plus new Google Wi-Fi units with a smart speaker included," Gillett told IANS.
They should also update on the Google Buds, the Pixelbook laptop and the Nest Hello digital doorbell, he added.
"Google's devices team needs to keep up with competition from Amazon, whose Echo and Ring products lines now cover a wide swath of the smart home.
"And Microsoft's new Surface line of products has put Google on notice that Microsoft is back in the smartphone race (using Android!) and doubling down on thought leadership for laptops and tablets," Gillett added.
Launched with much fanfare, the first edition of Pixel and Pixel XL were announced during a press event on October 4, 2016, succeeding the Nexus line of smartphones.
Pixels suffered from several issues after the release, including excessive optical lens flare in pictures captured through rear camera, connectivity issues with some mobile data bands, unstable Bluetooth connections, unexpected battery shutdowns, and failing microphones.
Google acknowledged those issues and released fixes for most of them but to no avail.
The tech giant has also admitted that it has sold fewer Pixel phones owing to industry-wide pressure on high-end smartphones.
"For the new Pixel 4 smartphones to be successful, Google will have to do two things -- to accelerate retail execution and partnerships with telcos and to demonstrate that tighter integration with Android 10 delivers a better experience than the new iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10 devices," said Thomas Husson, Vice President and Principal Analyst.
The analysts expect Google to also try to differentiate by embedding the latest version of the Google Assistant, enabling new use cases and interfaces with apps.
"It remains to be seen if Google manages to launch the new Google Assistant in multiple languages beyond English. Beyond tighter voice integration, Google may also support touchless hand gestures and advanced face unlock," Husson added.
Given the slow 5G start and the limited consumer benefits, Google may wait till 2020 for a 5G edition, the analysts suggested.
"To keep up with competition with Amazon, I'd expect Google to launch several new smart home speakers and devices and to pivot all of them under the Nest brand umbrella," Husson noted.