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 store.google.com and XDA.