The launch of Google Pixel 6a and Google Pixel Buds Pro this month kicks off a slew of Pixel-branded hardware launches that are set to take place in the coming months. Next in queue are the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and the Pixel Watch, which will make it to market in Fall 2022, followed by the Pixel Tablet, which we will see some time in 2023.
With these upcoming devices and the Nest hardware lineup, Google possibly has a compelling device in almost every category also targeted by Apple. Add to this the push for multi-device systems under its Better Together branding, which only indicates one thing. A Google Pixel Ecosystem is coming, and I, for one, can't wait to see it.
Why is a Google Ecosystem now possible?
You've probably seen a lot of other articles talking about the ecosystem floating around, and Google has been making devices for years, so why hasn't this argument come up before? Well, this article explores some of the underlying reasons why it's possible now and wasn't in the past.
Renewed Focus on Hardware
First and foremost on the list is Google's renewed focus on hardware. Until the Pixel 6 series, the Google smartphone lineup didn't have an identity. It had the smarts you'd need from a phone in today's day and age, but issues kept cropping up, which didn't help their case. Add to this the fact that Google was trying something new almost every year, and you'll notice the device never set anything in stone.
Plus, with most of its key features being software-based, no one wouldn't know what was unique about Pixel phones without experiencing it firsthand.
But the Pixel 6 series changed most of what was wrong with the above-stated aspects. It offered a new look for the phones that one could remember it by, and Google choosing to use the same design language for Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro is also a huge positive in my eyes, as it helps increase familiarity. And packaged inside was the Google-designed SoC, the Google Tensor, which enables even better AI-based features, making your life more convenient.
Yes, the Pixel 6 lineup hasn't been without its faults, but it shows the company has changed its software-only approach, falling more in line with 2022's requirement to control hardware and software.
The upcoming Pixel Watch and Pixel Tablet are also vital in making Google's ecosystem viable, and we look forward to seeing them in our hands soon.
Better Pricing Strategy
After the effects of a renewed focus on hardware, the next thing that makes the Google Ecosystem more viable is the pricing strategy the OEM seems to be following, thus, offering devices that are more value for money.
In 2018, the Pixel 3 XL with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage cost a whopping $1000. Android, at this point, needed more RAM to work with, and a few criticized the inadequate amount. Nevertheless, the high-priced strategy soon changed for the better with the launch of the Pixel 3a lineup and the subsequent introductions of the Google a-series, which offered compelling hardware for sub-$500.
In 2019 Google made another attempt at making a flagship device with a flagship price, but the Pixel 4 and 4 XL didn't perform as well. The Pixel 4a series, on the other hand, was another hit. Following this, the company stuck to making more cost-effective phones with the Pixel 5, even making some cuts in hardware and selling it at $699.
But come 2021, the Google Pixel 6 series marked a stunning re-entry into the flagship lineup. The Pixel 6 started at $599, while the Pixel 6 Pro cost $899. The phones offer a similar set of internal components, but changes on the outside, like the cameras and display, justified the difference in pricing. The devices showed they were highly competitive with their price-to-feature ratio, and the Pixel 6a's entry at $449 — a zero percent increase from the Pixel 5a — is also a positive.
The renewed strategy leaves Google with a device in the sub-$500 market, sub-$700 market, and $1000 market, giving users an option to choose a device with good specifications according to their budgets. This is the second factor that makes a Google Ecosystem possible today.
What ecosystem features does Google currently offer?
Now, the two factors stated above can't make an ecosystem, and cross-talking between devices is essential to make this project successful, and Google has been building out features steadily.
Apart from the prompts that Google Assistant can generate from your email data, a few components have been deployed. The most noteworthy are Fast Pair, Smart Home Routines, Remote Control for TV, and Instant Tethering. I've used some of these on my Android phone already, and I'm glad to say they work just as well as their iPhone counterparts. Google's Better Together website lists several other instances where Android devices connect with different hardware and function seamlessly.
As for the recent changes, the Pixel Buds Pro launch improves upon the Fast Pair feature with Audio Switching, which allows the earbuds to seamlessly switch between the devices you have synced with your Google Account. This feature is similar to functionality that's been available on AirPods for a while now.
Apart from this, if you've recently gotten yourself a Nest Cam, the At a Glance widget on your Pixel phone will show you persistent notifications and details about who is at your door. The feature started rolling out in June but had been available for some users as part of a server-based update when Mishaal Rahman first tweeted about it at the beginning of this year.
Will the Google Ecosystem be any good?
The Apple ecosystem has its strength based on both its hardware and software. In a way, we can say that Apple's efforts are equally divided between the two aspects. In the case of Google, it has always been a software company first, and the amount of data it possesses helps it make more capable software products.
The prompts laid out throughout Android are nifty and continue to improve as you use them, and the more data Google can grab from hardware, the better its services become. With its newfound focus on making compelling hardware, I believe Google has what it takes to make its ecosystem successful, and there might be ways for it to edge out Apple over time.
I hope the Google Ecosystem is a well-planned project.
Throughout this article, you may have sensed a hint of enthusiasm; in case you haven't, well, let me tell you, I'm looking forward to seeing a competition between ecosystems in the coming months. There are ways my Apple devices have made my life simple that I can't comprehend, leaving any behind.
But if Google makes a compelling set of features that are well integrated and provide the same or better level of features, then I would be interested in resting my iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad to try out something new.
I hope the ecosystem is a well-planned project and doesn't suffer a fate similar to the ones found in Google Graveyard. Because you already know that the more competition there is, the better it gets for the end consumer.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of a Google Ecosystem that rivals the one Apple offers, and do you think Google has what it takes? Let us know with a comment below.