Google made a move to the ‘hardware’ business by ditching the old Nexus smartphone and revamping Google’s involvement by introducing the new Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. They are advertising them as “Made by Google” but we all know that HTC built both models and we really do not know who will make the follow-up devices. It is not likely that Google will get into the manufacturing business anytime soon. What Google is going to have to do is make a commitment to stick out this new chapter in their “Made by Google” Pixel phones and to commit to a marketing plan, which many believe they do not have. If Google wants to compete in the global world of smartphone sales, they must have some sort of marketing plan.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, a Google representative indicated that as the AI projects started to grow, they felt they would have a better handle on it if they worked with both hardware and software at the same time. Moving forward there could be a faster integration if you were writing software to work on specific devices. They seem to be emphasizing that they want to bring a great experience to their users with both hardware and software. Google wants to have their very own AI-based tech like Apple's Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Google’s digital assistant is a wide-reaching product that can be used at home or on a mobile device. This makes it even more important that Google gets its marketing and retail presence known in a big way.
Google does not have the best track record when it comes to marketing products – just look at Nexus and Android Silver. Google has no brick or mortar stores to neither market nor sell its products. Right now, they have a partnership with Verizon for those that want to finance or pay for the phone outright at full retail. You can also purchase the Pixel devices at Best Buy, Google’s online store, and a temporary physical store in New York City. Google has spread its wings a bit and is working with a few carriers/retailers in Germany and India, but the spokesperson indicated expansion would be slow. The Google Home speaker is available for pre-order at Best Buy, Walmart, and Target stores.
The Google spokesperson said Google is on a “journey,” as they gain experience in the smartphone business. It is okay to take a ‘journey’ in a lab when you are designing a product or to kick around a new idea, but once the product is to market, decisions need to be made before they start selling the device. Marketing is as precise a discipline as engineering, especially if you are looking to increase sales and become a household name. According to our source, when Google was courting carriers, the carriers wanted to know the usual – how will you handle phone returns and what about technical support. Apparently, Google had not thought that far ahead.
Rick Osterloh, new hardware chief reassured everybody at Google’s event in San Francisco that Google was serious and that “We’re in it for the long run.” Google is now taking on a technical support with a built-in chat support on the Pixel devices – the customer service rep can even ‘take over’ your phone to diagnosis the problem. Google will also handle returns, recycling, or rejected devices. Google is concentrating on getting millions of users to rely on its Google Assistant and then bake in the digital assistant into its hardware. People will start to rely on Google products and open up a clear path to what Apple has enjoyed for years – a way to lock you into their system. A lot of what Google is saying is true, but it seems like they are avoiding the 'M' word - Marketing. Very few products can market themselves, especially when there is so much competition in the field of smartphones and smart devices. If Google hopes to be successful, they will have to start advertising and pushing their products.