The Nexus brand is dead. Long live the Nexus idea.
Today, Google took the stage and announced a few new products, and also revealed a few more details about things we already knew about. The company started things off with the new Pixel and Pixel XL, touting both as the first devices to come with Google Assistant built in.
Assistant is going to be huge for Google, and, as such, the company is doubling down on its efforts to get the artificial intelligence platform onto as many devices as possible, and therefore more accessible. Assistant is available on the Pixel lineup, Google Home, and it will be arriving on other products as the months tick by.
A lot has changed at Google, and continues to change, but there’s something that’s staying the same, in broad strokes: Nexus. Even if Google is dropping the brand, and has even gone as far as to say that the Nexus brand is effectively dead at this point, the ideas are still here.
First, availability. We’ve seen the Nexus lineup come and go from carries, sometimes in a wide release, sometimes being available from only one, and sometimes just flat-out not being supported by others altogether. The Pixel lineup will continue that legacy with general availability through the Google Store, where pre-orders went live soon after the event closed shop.
And then there’s the Verizon Wireless exclusivity. The Rumor Mill had made this an obvious announcement ahead of the big reveal, but I can say that I know quite a few people who were hoping that this wasn’t going to be the case. And even after Google made it official, there was some hope there that it would just be a timed exclusive. But, as it stands, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Google’s unlocked handsets will support other carriers, but for the folks who wanted to buy their Pixel or Pixel XL from a carrier, Verizon’s the only option. Which I can’t help but think is just the wrong way to go about this. The new Pixel phones are great – why limit their availability right out of the gate?
This is probably because while the Pixel devices drop the Nexus brand, and Google is essentially done with it, the methodology is still there. The Pixel and Pixel XL, based on availability and launch, will probably not see a huge boost in attention, and they’ll probably be purchased by the majority of folks who would have bought a new Nexus smartphone this year, if Google had offered one.
Pixel copies, or simply carries over, the strongest efforts from the Nexus lineup. The best possible specifications to show off the features of Android, like virtual reality, namely. These aren’t developer devices by any means, but the Nexus lineup hasn’t felt like that, not really, in a long time.
But it also doesn’t put the Pixel or Pixel XL in the same category as the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, or even other competing Android-based devices. Google doesn’t appear to be giving the best possible chance for the Pixel lineup to succeed, which is a real shame, because the new smartphones look pretty great.
Google’s making it a bit easier with financing, and Google Fi, but for folks that are on T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, or any other carrier, buying an expensive smartphone from Google directly might not be the way they want to go. The Nexus lineup may have suffered from this same mentality, and here we are with a new brand and new devices, but treading the same water.
Still, I can’t help but be curious. If you aren’t a Verizon customer, did you pre-order the Pixel or Pixel XL? And if you didn’t, why not? If you are a Verizon subscriber, did you pre-order Google’s new smartphone? Let me know!