Can Google’s Upcoming Pixel 2 Dethrone Apple iPhone?

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is reportedly working on the successor of its highly appreciated Google Pixel smartphone – Pixel 2. The launch of Google Pixel 2 is expected to take place sometime this year, most probably closer to launch of Apple iPhone 8. The indications are clear, Google doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned to strengthen its position in the premium smartphone segment. To do that, it has to eat into Apple iPhone market. The big question is, can Google Pixel live up to the expectations and, most importantly, can it lure iPhone users who are confined to Apple ecosystem and are loyal to Apple?

Since its launch in June 2007, the iPhone line from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has consistently been among the top rated and most commercially successful smartphones ever to be produced. Apple has fought off competition from many giants of the smartphone industry to claim the numero uno position in the industry hierarchy. In Q4 2016, after five years, Apple managed to dethrone Samsung in the shipments of smartphones.

Despite all above, recent years have seen Apple lose ground to Android in a big way, with manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Xiaomi, Oneplus providing tough competition. However, Apple still has a stranglehold on the premium smartphone segment. In fact, Apple manufactures the three most popular smartphones in the US – the iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Just as the iPhone is the flag-bearer for the iOS platform, Google’s own Nexus line of phones has long since been touted as the “pure android experience”. The Nexus phones have been known for providing high-end hardware and features for a mid-range price.

Pixel Is The New Nexus

All of this changed recently with Google ditching the Nexus line in favour of the new Pixel line of phones. With all the similarities in their approach to smartphone design, the Pixel line can be considered as the spiritual successor to the old Nexus line. With the Pixel line of phones, Google hoped to release a product that would directly compete with the iPhone and even manage to turn a profit.

The Pixel lineup debuted with two models – the Google Pixel and Pixel XL in the October of 2016, within a month of the Apple iPhone launch date. The Pixel phones met with almost universal critical acclaim, with the Pixel phones matching the iPhone both spec-wise and in other hardware features such as the camera, build quality, screen, etc. However, despite all the plaudits, the commercial response to the Pixel phones has been somewhat lukewarm. While both Pixel phones sold fairly well, there is still a ways to go before Google (1.3% of sales) can hope to catch up with the likes of Samsung (28.9% of sales) or Apple (31.3% percent of sales) when it comes to smartphone sales. The Pixel is only the first iteration of Google’s new lineup of generational flagship smartphones. With the Google Pixel 2 expected to release in Q4 of 2017, it is likely to go head to head with the upcoming iPhone 7S and rumoured iPhone 8.

Google Pixel 2 and iPhone 8: Breakdown

Apple is expected to make major design and hardware changes to the iPhone this year, chief among them being the use of a curved OLED display for its “infinity screen”. It is purportedly going to have an edge to edge OLED display with the home button and touch ID ensconced underneath the glass itself. The back of the phone will be made entirely out of glass, instead of the Aluminium of the past few years. Other expected features are wireless charging, facial recognition and an improved camera. Powering all the hardware will be an Apple A11 Fusion chip.

On the other hand, some major upgrades expected in the Google Pixel 2 are a dual camera setup, fast charging, a flat OLED screen and up to 4K resolution. The rumoured inclusion of a water-resistant body is another significant improvement. The Pixel 2 is reportedly going to be powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 4 or 6 GB of RAM. The Google Pixel 2 will supposedly be available in 5-inch and 5.7-inch variant.

Can The Pixel 2 Dethrone The King?

The Google Pixel 2 represents a very real and tangible threat to Apple’s position as numero uno in the premium smartphone market. Over the past few years, Android has matured considerably as a platform. A research study published by Blancco shows that Android is now the go to platform for a more reliable, consistent and crash-free smartphone experience. Android phones suffer from much lower failure rates and instances of apps crashing as opposed to iOS.

The Pixel 2 may also have the advantage of a sharper screen, better camera, better battery life. However, it does not seem likely that the Pixel 2 will displace the iPhone 8 as the best selling premium smartphone anytime soon. Apple has cultivated a large and loyal fan-base who are deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem, which is still second to none. Apple’s attractive designs and the popularity of iOS means that the Apple iPhone 8 should continue to maintain its vaunted position at the top of the food chain.

This is backed up by market share trends for the Pixel phones and iPhones which were 1.3% and 12.5% respectively. This supplemented by the immense profitability of Apple’s smartphone business; in Q4 2016, Apple pocketed 92% of total smartphone industry profit, which was made possible by losses suffered by rivals. Google also lacks the robust distribution network required to outsell brands such as Apple and Samsung on such a scale.

Google created something remarkable with the Pixel and Pixel XL. A simple, high construction design with impressive specs and by merging software and hardware in a unique way to create a seamless experience. Now, they look to follow suit and even better themselves with the Pixel 2. One day, probably, Google may overtake Apple in the smartphone race, but it does not seem that that will happen anytime soon.

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