In all the excitement about the official announcements of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, there was a detail that slipped by that most of us didn’t really think too much about. I know I missed it for sure, but Deiter Bohn over at The Verge didn’t. If you don’t know Dieter, you should. He makes incredible tech videos and he’s been on the front lines of growing the Verge’s YouTube channel to what it is today. He was also the Editor In Chief at Pre Central (a site totally based on the ill-fated Palm Pre and the first tech blog I routinely followed back in the day), so I’ve been a fan of his for quite some time.
Anyway, he was one of the few who were lucky enough to get hands-on time with the upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro and though I was keenly interested in his take on both phones, it was the latter portions of his video on these new handsets that really caught my attention. Take a listen to what he has to say at the 08:18 mark in the video below.
A couple quotes stand out, here. First is the one from Google Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh (the guy you see most on stage at Google’s hardware events) when he told Dieter that “this product really now is The Google Phone.” As the sixth generation of what most of us would consider ‘The Google Phone’, having the main guy in charge of hardware call this phone the actual Google Phone is pretty telling. It means Google believes in this hardware. It means they are invested more than they’ve ever been before. It means they are really going for it this time around.
Second, the quote Dieter shared from the last Google/Alphabet investor call stands out as important. These calls are just like any other investor call, giving those with vested interest in the company a heads-up as to the profits gained and what types of spending will be happening in the near future. In this call, the following statement was made to basically warn investors that more cash than usual would be rolling out the door to promote these phones.
In addition, we expect sales and marketing expenses to be more heavily weighted to the back half of the year, in part to support product launches in the holiday season.Ruth Porat – CFO Google & Alphabet
Finally, we have Dieter’s thoughts on how Google is preparing to position these new phones. Instead of nice phones that have Google’s own take on Android each year, Google is ready to take on the big boys in the phone industry this time. That means they are ready to put their hardware up against the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and even Apple this with this iteration of the Pixel. While every previous Pixel has been a tale of restraint, trial, and much error, it feels like Google knows it has an ace up the sleeve with this phone and they are ready to lay the smack down in a real way.
But, Google is saying that it is trying to make a phone that is competitive with the best phones out there. With the Pixel 5 and, you know, even the Pixel 4, and you know, earlier Pixels: they weren’t saying that this was the ‘best of the best’ ultra-premium, but that’s what they’re going for now.Dieter Bohn – The Verge
A new era of Pixel
We’ve never been able to say any of this about a Pixel phone before. I’ve always hoped Google would really get behind their phones and throw even a bit of their enormous cash pile at marketing, but it’s been the same story every year. Sure, a few TV spots here and a few YouTube ads there help get the word out, but if any path is to be emulated, here, it is Samsung’s. Years ago, they were clawing to get mindshare from iPhone users. Now, Samusung and the Galaxy brand of phones is known to just about any consumer you ask. How’d they get there? Tons of marketing.
Year in and year out, Samsung spares little expense getting the message out about their phones and they do a great job at drilling this point into the minds of millions and millions of consumers on an ongoing and calculated basis. You can have the best overall product and simply get lost in a sea of competitors if you don’t advertise, and wouldn’t it just make sense that Google knows this? They are still an advertising company at the end of the day.
Perhaps they’ve never really believed in their product as much as they do now and thus have withheld those marketing dollars a bit. Perhaps with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, we’ll see a new Google Hardware: one that unaplogetically tells the world about its latest creation, spends the money to help people understand its importance, and spares no expense to get the word out that this new Pixel is the one you need to buy. Maybe – just maybe – that will be enough to finally push Google’s own phones into the limelight they could actually deserve this year.