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The mystery of Google’s missed Pixel opportunity

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I’ve been thinking an awful lot about Pixel phones lately. And it seems safe to say the cause for my current contemplation is a teensy bit unusual.

The burning question in Android Land at this particular moment, y’see, is why Google appears to be preparing to launch a new Pixel phone that seems shockingly similar to one of its previous-generation Pixel models — which itself existed in a strange in-between position, with no obvious reason for its presence in last year’s quirky lineup. (Oof. My head hurts.)

That, however, is not the question we’re here to consider today. Until Google actually releases that device, we don’t necessarily know the full picture of what it entails, and all we can do is speculate.

Today, the puzzler I want to ponder is a bigger-picture question about the Pixel line’s existence and how Google is — or maybe isn’t — positioning the phone for success.

As part of my just-launched Pixel Academy e-course, I’ve been leading folks on a deep-dive journey to explore some of the most useful — and, in many cases, unique — possibilities presented by Google’s Pixel phones. And while chatting with some of the smart and attractive land-mammals who’ve signed up to uncover the hidden secrets of their pocket-sized Pixel pals, I’ve been reminded of something: Google really does a mind-bogglingly bad job of publicizing the Pixel’s strengths.

Now, I’m not talking about the higher-level Pixel advantages, like the phone’s exceptional user experience or its peerless level of post-sales software support. Those are critically important qualities, without a doubt, but they aren’t exactly perks that are easy to articulate to the phone-buying masses. They’re fairly abstract, somewhat technical, and just not the sorts of things you can placard on a billboard and use to grab the attention of an average tech-seeking Homo sapien (and/or platypus).

But you know what types of perks are easy to market? Yep, you guessed it: the ones that involve specific features designed to address common pain points and make your life a little easier. (Man, you’re good!) And that’s especially true when those perks revolve around futuristic-sounding Google smarts — smarts no other company can even come close to matching.

Those are the features that set the Pixel apart in meaningful, practical, and impossibly enticing ways — and yet, Google does practically nothing to promote those sorts of possibilities. Not only is the general phone-buying public woefully unaware of their existence, but Pixel owners themselves, as my Academy interactions have reminded me, are positively blown away when they learn what their devices have been able to do all this time.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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