While Google is relatively new to the hardware business – from the perspective of owning the end to end process – their Hardware head Rick Osterloh is something of a hardware veteran. Rick sat down this week for an interview with FastCompany.
The interview covered a lot, from the progress of the Pixel line, the role of AI going forward and even the future of VR (in short Osterloh seems uncertain about VR).
There’s a lot of territory covered and we’d encourage you to read the full story but we did find a few interesting parts worthy of discussion.
On the eve of the announcement of Google’s first foray into the affordable smartphone market, it’s not surprising that Osterloh had a few thoughts on smartphone costs.
Speaking about the costs of devices, Osterloh has the following to say
“A lot of those capabilities are expensive, and so prices have gone up. And in that process, a lot of users realize that they can’t afford it. […]
It’s slowing down as people are extending their buying periods from 24 months to 36.”
It looks like Google has figured out that the current market strategy of just charging more and more is having a negative effect on the NEW premium smartphone market.
With this in mind, it makes the emergence of a lower priced, well-performing Pixel 3a line not just a good business idea but inevitable. Most OEMs have a range of devices at various price points, so it makes sense Google is going to do the same, especially with their focus on emerging market share.
When considering affordable devices Osterloh said:
“We see opportunity to come up with products that make for more accessible price points, with a great user experience.”
With Google taking control of the majority of HTC’s hardware division and several iterations of Pixel behind them, the company just may take the mid / upper midrange by storm with the Pixel 3a range.
If the rumour of a full AI-powered Pixel camera delivering flagship camera performance is true, we can consider the mid-tier landscape permanently altered, according to Osterloh
“We now have a capability that the company never had before – to create an end-to-end phone”.
One more thing
What’s a hardware discussion without one more thing? What about Google’s non-core products? Chrome OS Pixel books, and platforms like Wear OS and Android TV…. Mr Osterloh?
“We see an important place for these products, and we’ll keep making them – because we think we’re getting a lot out of it”.
While that’s no promise that any specific category will stick around, it’s good to know that there’s more than just financial performance taken into account when deciding on the future of a range of hardware.