If Google is ever going to make the Nexus lineup- or the Pixel lineup as it is rumored to be called now a major player, it has to be now. Google has made it a point for the last six years to release a reference device to give OEMs and developers an idea of the direction it would like to see the industry head. These new devices introduced new hardware standards (Nexus imprint, USB type-C) and saw to it that almost everyone could have a clean install of Stock Android to test whatever they may be working on.
The Nexus lineup hasn’t always been so popular. It has had its ebbs, like the $650 price tag for the monstrous Nexus 6, and its flows like the fabulous Nexus 5, but it has always been a darling among Android enthusiasts. Where the lineup hasn’t shined, however, is with the general public. There are many reasons for that, but we did see a signal of intent this past year with an aggressive marketing campaign from Google for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. It does appear that Google is getting more serious about making the Nexus a major player and if it ever wants it to be, this is the year it has to take it to the next level. Here’s why.
The Apple iPhone 7 will be a disappointment
Now, I know what you’re thinking. A writer from a website with “Android” in the name is bashing the iPhone. How original? But, what you need to understand is that I’m as disappointed in the iPhone as anyone else. I love Apple’s hardware and I really wanted the 7 to be a strong contender. Great iPhones breed great Android phones and vice-versa. Plus, I’ve owned every iPhone since the original alongside my Android devices so I enjoy the devices on a personal level as well.
With that said, I do think that the iPhone 7 will be a disappointment this year. Apple didn’t innovate that much, it kept the same design and removed a universally accepted port so it could provide better haptic feedback. I don’t think those things add up to a great device and I’m betting the market agrees with me. Interest and sales will be at an all-time low for the iPhone and this gives Google a good opportunity to convert some folks over to Android. Apple is going to come out huge with the Tenth Anniversary edition of the iPhone so if Google is going to do it, it better be now.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle
We’ve all heard about the Galaxy Note 7 exploding. While most of us applaud Samsung for how it’s handled the recall of the devices so far, it will still continue to be a weight around Samsung’s neck across all product lines. Put yourself in the shoes of a person who doesn’t care that much about their phone. They just want something that will work, look nice and not blow up in their hands as a Note 7 has just done to a six-year-old boy. Samsung may have done the right thing by recalling and replacing all Note 7’s, but this will stick in the memory of consumers for years.
Google MUST capitalize on the vacuum at the top. If consumers aren’t inspired by the iPhone 7 and they don’t feel safe with the Note 7, they will look elsewhere or keep their money in their pocket. Releasing a true flagship Nexus with specs and performance to beat everyone else on the market when there are no real alternatives is a recipe for success.
Huawei is coming. Quickly.
If you’ve followed AndroidGuys.com at all over the last year, you have noticed that we put an emphasis on saving our readers money. One of the biggest ways to do that in our scope of coverage is buying an unlocked device. We love the $300-$500 range where you can get amazing devices like the OnePlus 3, Moto Z Play, and ZTE Axon 7. The most impressive device in that price range might be the Huawei Honor 8 which was just released in the United States.
The Honor 8 has build quality that rivals the Samsung Galaxy S7 while costing about 60% of the price. The software will appeal to both iOS and Android fans in a way few other Android devices do. It’s a completely different phone from everything else being sold in the United States right now.
I have no inside knowledge of Huawei’s plans for the US, but I do know there is a gap it can fill right now with little resistance. At the top, you have Samsung and Apple battling it out for supremacy, while companies like LG, HTC, and Sony try to carve out a slice of the pie. Huawei could very easily come in and take a piece of the high-end market and gobble up the part that the also-rans are fighting for.
Huawei has proven that it can make great high-end phones with the Nexus 6P and now its proving it can produce a compelling option in the mid-range too with the Honor 8. Google better get the jump on it too before it even gets out of the gate.
Google knows what it needs to do. To make the Nexus/Pixel lineup the next great line of phones in consumer’s minds, it must strike while the iron is hot. There has never been a better time to make a dent in the market the way that it can this year.
What do you think? Do you think Google will make a major push into the mainstream? Will the be content to be an also-ran? Let us know down in the comments what you think Google’s mobile strategy should be.