Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 14:41 UTC

Tomorrow, Google will unveil two new phones, and for the first time, they won't be Nexus devices. So much has been leaked now that we know pretty much everything there is to know about these Pixel phones. With every Android manufacturer except Samsung in a death spiral, while Samsung's phones are having 'issues', it makes sense for Google to try and assert more control over what used to be the Nexus line. The result will be devices carrying Google's own Pixel brand.

One aspect of the rumours and leaks that caught my attention was this bit:

Making two high-end phones with all the bells and whistles, just as ready for the future as they are today is a step in the right direction. Buying billboards and commercial space during sports events so people know you're doing it is another step. Speculation about having a well-trained support staff that you can reach anytime from anywhere through the phone's settings points to yet another. If Google builds a better mousetrap and makes sure everyone knows they built a better mousetrap, the world may beat a path to their door.

If Google is really going to pursue a serious effort to expand the Nexus (okay, Pixel) appeal beyond us nerds, it's going to need more than billboards in New York. It's going to need these phones to be front and centre with carriers, smartphone stores, and online stores. It's going to need an aggressive marketing campaign to capture the attention of people who would otherwise just opt for an iPhone or Galaxy, and explain to them why they should abandon the two major brands they know.

Most of all, though, Google is going to need a support structure for these phones. For reasons that are still unclear to me, my Nexus 6P is not receiving its monthly security patches anymore, and I have no idea why. Sure, I can figure it out by browsing or posting on XDA or diving deep into my phone's software (and I will), but I'm a nerd, so set those options aside for a moment - where would I go with an issue like this? Who would I contact for help? Can I walk into a Google Store or whatever and get some sanctioned support for this issue?

The answer is - as with anything related to Google and support - a firm and resounding 'no'. If Google really wants to take its Pixel phones to the masses, it's going to need a sales and support structure that goes well beyond and XDA.

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Reliability is a distant future
by Radio on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 15:34 UTC
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Google could do a lot, but let's be realistic: the very architecture of Android plus Google's strategic plans makes support a nightmare for the foreseeable future... Too many moving parts, too fresh code, very little hardening at the development stage or in the design, incentives lying more with protecting carriers (defeat rooting) than users... And Andromeda (the merging of ChnromeOS and Android) down the line, which means a lot of fresh rewrites, priorization of new development instead of fixing bugs, and introducing new bugs.

About security, some problems come from necessary compromise (the intent system is opening many security holes, but at the same time it is a brilliant concept and necessary for actual work), but if Copperhead's work* is any indication, a sh*tton of work is necessary to harden the whole design. Or just find a way to get around it (where is Project Vault, Google?).

In short, this is a prime example of why having sound foundations and design is important, instead of hacking together a working piece of sh*t and trying to improve from there. But try to tell that to modern software developers and project managers and senior managers...


Edited 2016-10-03 15:35 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Quite bold...
by dionicio on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 16:40 UTC
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The apparent long term path. Not my thinking, that Google is going the Lone Ranger Way.

Reply Score: 2

Where can you even see one?
by shotsman on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 16:53 UTC
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Thom hits the nail on the head.
Google needs a sales plan. It is no use have in sure fire iPhone killer if:-
1) No one can get their hands on one to try it for themselves
2) No one can walk intto a store and come out with one in their greasy mits
3) There is no after sales support in place for when it goes wrong or even to replace a broken screen.
4) they must be smoking some strong weed if they think they can sell millions and millions only from their website.

Apple has all of those certainly in th US and the EU. Samsung has it to a lesser extent.
This means that Google has a mountain to climb if they want to topple Apple and Samsung from the top of the heap.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Where can you even see one?
by birdie on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 19:14 UTC in reply to "Where can you even see one?"
birdie Member since:

Google has become a nightmare of bureaucracy - even if you are a high profile user of their services, there's no call line, there's no e-mail support, there's nothing.

If the rumored prices are real (the smaller Pixel will be sold at $650) and Google still doesn't introduce any resemblance of real human support, then Google has lost any contact with reality. Expect these two phones to be discounted up to 70% in the first six month after their introduction.

Also, could Google tell me how such a gigantic organization with billions in revenue cannot support Nexus 5 which is considered the best device among all existing Nexuses? There are still places where you can buy a brand new Nexus 5 which is astonishingly considered "obsolete". What's obsolete about it? It's faster than 80% of Androids out there, it has 2 gigs of RAM, it has a decent camera and it's just perfect in every day use.

And let me tell you that new Pixels suck (copy pasted from another website):

> Considering all the leaks, Google has gone crazy:
> 1) Awful names which speak nothing for the average Joe, and sound terrible for anyone with a modicum of IT knowledge
> 2) Horrible very high prices
> 3) iPhone 5(s) wannabes
> 4) Atrocious very wide bezels which serve no purpose
> 5) Look cheap, like very cheap - no style whatsoever (perhaps only in renders)
> I hope these phone will tank hard and will be discounted 50-70% in the first three months after introduction.
> Give us another Nexus 6: QHD screen, a decent screen to body ratio, stereo speakers, 5.7" - 6" display with a good battery (>3600mAh).

Reply Score: 2

by bram on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 17:06 UTC
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Is a new tablet expected as well?
I would like a nexus/pixel tablet with long term support and no crapware on it.

Reply Score: 1

Not a user concern.
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 18:25 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:

The reality is most users would not know their phone stopped receiving security updates. That kind of mirrors the lack of a non-tls warning for browsers.

Having said that, there should be something built into android that sends a notification every 5 days beyond when it should have received security udpates. That would put the fire into the OEMS to actually deliver them and provide a way of fixing any issues when it happens. If only Nerds complain, then there will only be nerd solutions.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Not a user concern.
by darknexus on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 18:29 UTC in reply to "Not a user concern."
darknexus Member since:

Having said that, there should be something built into android that sends a notification every 5 days beyond when it should have received security udpates. That would put the fire into the OEMS to actually deliver them and provide a way of fixing any issues when it happens.

You overestimate the average OEMs' willingness to fix problems. What would actually happen is that the default OEM installation would simply block this notification. Users wouldn't see it, and OEMs would never get any complaints.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not a user concern.
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 5th Oct 2016 18:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Not a user concern."
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

Well, maybe. Obviously, if Google were to do this, they'd write it into the contract that it had to be visible. Just like the security patch date. Its just taking that one step further.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not a user concern.
by dionicio on Thu 6th Oct 2016 13:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Not a user concern."
dionicio Member since:

Google could advance not one, but two or three strict hardware profiles. That would make space for CHEAP OEM service contracts.

Reply Score: 2

How long...
by Flatland_Spider on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 18:27 UTC
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They had Motorola for this, and now they are starting from scratch. Brilliant plan Google. Simply brilliant.

How long is their commitment going to be to this project? 6 months, a year?

As someone who has gotten tired of Google EOLing projects every few months, or leaving them to rot, only to roll out something new that works more, or less, mostly less, exactly the same way the old one did, why should I buy into this?

Google does some interesting things, but they don't have the constitution to stand against a stiff wind. This reeks of desperation the way the Nokia deal and Surface line reeks for Microsoft.

Plus, my wife's iPhone just works better. Sorry Android, but I've given you too many chances. I'm taking what's left of my self-respect, and I'm moving on to something better.

Reply Score: 2

RE: How long...
by CaptainN- on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 20:34 UTC in reply to "How long..."
CaptainN- Member since:

Android is dominant right now. The only place Apple is ascendant is in parts of the high end market in the US and other first world countries, but watch carefully over the next couple of years. That dominance will wane (it's already started). These devices are a commodity, and Apple isn't as shiny as it once was.

Also, Android has a lot going for it against Apple. iOS is a bit easier to use (and iMessage is simply better than texting - texting sucks, and we really need an open federated standard, but whatever). There are very few features in iOS that something like a Nexus 6P can't match, and most of them are nice to haves, like color management, etc. Some parts of Android are actually more enjoyable to use (like notifications, and app permissions, the utility drawer, etc.), even though Apple has been photocopying that stuff of late. Google Now (especially on Moto phones) is far more useful than Siri overall, and with continuing updates on the Pixel, and access to so much user data (love it or hate it) will only get better.

Finally, Android is feeling extremely well engineered at this point (ever since about 5.1), and Material Design is quite a bit more lovely (well designed, and thought out) than iOS 7 style (whatever it may be called).

I know much of this is subjective, but here's some more - almost every one of my extended family members have switched to Android (mostly Samsung's variant, which is unfortunate) in the last year, and the hold outs are more than miffed about the loss of the headphone jack - but are ecstatic at the thought of ditching iTunes (talk about a 500 lbs weight). They are excited by the thought that they can just get their music files off their phone like any other device, and that Android devices will still have a headphone jack. Yeah Android is a little bit more work to set up the way you like it - but just a little. Seriously, it's not a big deal.

Another quick story - I recently upgraded to Nexus 6P (after breaking my screen on my aging first gen Moto X). One of the first things that happened was when I opened my Photos app, all the photos I've taken since 2006 showed up on my phone (presumably I had uploaded everything through Picasa at some point)! Screw privacy, that is SLICK. On iOS I always just turn off iCloud like everyone else, because it nags nags nags.

From my perspective iOS and Apple by extension are not standing on solid ground.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: How long...
by Windows Sucks on Tue 4th Oct 2016 00:33 UTC in reply to "RE: How long..."
Windows Sucks Member since:

Well if Google goes all out and stabs their OEMs in the back Android is pretty much dead.

They will not outsell Apple or Sammy head to head . Smart OEMs who aren't making money anyway will ether flee or make their own services (if they can) because Google don't give them kick backs when it's the OEMs that push Android for Google and Google makes all the money off Ads and all the services.

Doubt they will push this much more then Nexus.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: How long...
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 4th Oct 2016 15:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: How long..."
Flatland_Spider Member since:

The Android OEMs are dropping like flies, so it probably doesn't matter. The writing was on the wall a long time ago, and Google needed to kick them to the curb sooner rather then later. The tea leaves are suggesting Google might just do that.

We're on the same page about Google services.

The way forward for OEMs is to fork Android like the Chinese have done and produce their own versions with their own services, and still keep compatibility.

Plus, vertical integration is a much more viable business model with cellphones, and it's pretty much the only way to get a seamless upgrade experience due to ARM's bootstrapping quirks and hardware drivers that are treated like national secrets.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: How long...
by darknexus on Tue 4th Oct 2016 17:48 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: How long..."
darknexus Member since:

The Android OEMs are dropping like flies, so it probably doesn't matter. The writing was on the wall a long time ago, and Google needed to kick them to the curb sooner rather then later. The tea leaves are suggesting Google might just do that.

Good. Then perhaps Android can become a coherent operating environment again.
In all seriousness, I absolutely hate supporting Android devices. Everything's different not only from OEM to OEM, but even model to model and even carrier firmware to another. It's utter insanity. Samsung is the worst, but not the only, offender. Someone needs to take control of this mess.

Reply Score: 2

RE: How long...
by CaptainN- on Mon 3rd Oct 2016 20:39 UTC in reply to "How long..."
CaptainN- Member since:

Oh, and they aren't starting from scratch with Motorola- they didn't want to run that behemoth of a company to start with. They learned what they could from it (and swiped their patents), and sold it off. You can still see the lessons they learned at play in their current plan making, all of which involve using partnerships to produce their branded hardware. They are basically doing the Nexus thing, which was intended for developers, except now they are targeting higher end devices/consumers. It's nothing at all like their Moto play.

You can also see the remnants of the Google perspective at play with the Moto line of phones - which are some of the best out there in terms of the light modifications to UX on their Android variant (I like my Moto X assistance better than the stock Nexus one - it just isn't as good at the context aware stuff - especially driving mode).

Reply Score: 2

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Is "Pixel" a less nerdy name than "Nexus"? No. ;-P

Reply Score: 2

by ellingsondavid on Tue 4th Oct 2016 15:47 UTC
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I know that getting Google support is an issue for some, but I have thoroughly enjoyed Project Fi's service. I can call and talk to a human, use text or chat, or an email. They have been absolutely wonderful about it.

Reply Score: 1