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No chance against Samsung and Apple: Why Google is failing in the smartphone market

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The two new Pixel smartphones 5 and 4a 5G. Image: google / screenshot


No chance against Apple and Samsung: Why Google is failing in the smartphone market

Ever heard of Google Pixel? Not? Funny, these are the smartphones of the largest tech company in the world. Maybe it's because, despite the name, the devices aren't all that common. Google has been working on expanding its smartphone division for four years. With modest success. The market share in the USA is three percent. If Google's offshoots appear in European statistics, then under the "Other" section. So the portion is too small to mention separately.

And yet, Google recently introduced new devices: the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G. An impressively colorful presentation for rather colorless devices. Technically, the smartphones are not outstanding, which we will get into later. So far it doesn't seem as if Google can even guess at competitors like Huawei, Samsung or Apple, the gap is simply too big. It will not decrease in future either. Google made too many mistakes for that.

Google was late

Much too late. The first Pixel smartphone appeared in October 2016, four years ago. Quite late when you consider that Apple launched the first iPhone model back in 2007. Huawei followed in 2009. Samsung was not long in coming, followed up with the Galaxy S a year later. The three companies developed into market leaders. Huawei was even in first place at the beginning of 2020, despite poor starts and strong competition. But that shouldn't happen to Google.

Samsung, Apple and Huawei have been able to build trust over the years, which has resulted in a growing fan base. Time Google is missing. As good as the technology may be, it will ultimately be difficult to convince someone to switch to a new smartphone provider. Anyone who uses a Samsung Galaxy, for example, is likely to stick with it - after all, there are replenishment every year.

With Apple products, the hurdle for a change is even higher. Let's take the iPhone: iTunes, iCloud and their own app store create a golden cage, users are more or less dependent. With a move to an Android device, they are basically giving up on everything they amassed over the years.

Now one could argue that the Android system is being developed under the umbrella of Google, which is why Pixel smartphones are the first to receive updates. As exclusive as that may be, devices from other manufacturers are also available. Stupid when a unique selling point fizzles out within a short period of time.

Google does without bells and whistles

Except for the camera. Google smartphones always take good pictures, that's what they are known for. The Pixel 4 even had one of the best cameras to date. Two lenses on the back, one with 16 megapixels and a wide-angle lens with twelve. An extra chip for image processing even made pictures look nice in poor lighting conditions. But the device cost a lot at 749 euros - the XL version with, surprise, larger display, better resolution and stronger battery, even 899 euros

So Google tried to play along with the big players in the high-price segment. The iPhone 11 costs 800, the Galaxy S10 900 euros, the Huawei P30 even a proud 1000 euros. The improved versions were much more expensive, we save the prices. Time and again, Google oriented itself towards the two smartphone giants and provided the camera as the main argument. Unfortunately, that's a poor one.

The competition also cut a good figure in this regard, which should be rather bad for Google. At most, a small target group, consisting of photography nerds, might have moved the camera to buy a Pixel 4. Most consumers continued to resort to the usual suspects Samsung and Apple.

New ways

Meanwhile, Google understood that. The camera in the upcoming Pixel 5 is still of high quality: again two modules, again a wide-angle lens. But the rest of the technology is more in the midfield, which makes the device a lot cheaper.

No gesture control, so control without direct contact, no face unlocking. In addition, an okayer processor (Snapdragon 765G), okayer RAM (8 gigabytes), okayer internal memory (128 gigabytes). It should cost just under 610 euros. Google is thus avoiding the direct battle with Apple and Samsung.

But not only the cheaper representatives cavort in the price range, but also companies such as the Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi, which is gaining popularity with its competitive prices. And even if Google is known for its good camera technology - most manufacturers now use four modules, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 for 549 even has five and has already impressed in tests. It remains to be seen whether the "she takes great pictures because of the software" argument.

Google has a trust problem

And what one. Sure, most of them will use the Google search engine. It is an almost unrivaled market leader. The company is financed through advertising, personalized advertising. Accordingly, the company is considered a data octopus, about which outsiders know practically nothing.

It took time and pressure from third parties, such as the European Union, for Google to disclose what information it was collecting about its users. We can also pause tracking. An important step, even if it comes late.

Because the company still has its bad reputation. It is somehow uncomfortable when we are asked after shopping whether we want to give a rating for the store we have just visited. Or when we see advertisements for products on our smartphones that we looked at on Amazon a few minutes ago.

Of course, this has to do with the Android apps on our smartphone. But such inquiries can hardly motivate you to buy a smartphone from the manufacturer who knows almost everything about you. And that, although this applies to all Android users and can be turned off. The function is linked to the Google account, not to the smartphone. The data octopus remains present in many minds.

Will the new models change anything?

Well, the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4A 5G are unlikely to usher in the golden age of smartphones for Google. Nevertheless, it won't harm the company, that's for sure. The main source of income is and will remain the software division. The search engine, YouTube or Android are just a few examples. The hardware provides at most a small pocket money compared to the income from it.

But why Google is still sticking to it cannot really be explained. Maybe passion, maybe self-mortification. Perhaps the company also wants to wipe out Samsung, Apple and Huawei. In view of the success, however, the blow will come nowhere.

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