A combined strategy of in-house hardware and strong partnerships can work — under the right circumstances.
Google has been riding a wave of consumer confidence the past couple of months following its late-fall hardware launch of the Pixels, Google Home and Chromecast Ultra. But this week, we saw the other side of its strategy: launching products with its long-standing hardware partners running on Google's platforms. Wednesday saw the release of Android Wear 2.0 using LG's hardware, and just two days later Samsung released a really great Chromebook.
The new LG Watch Sport and Watch Style aren't perfect (even in the shaky smartwatch world), and no matter how good the Samsung Chromebook Pro is received it in itself won't change the landscape of the Chrome OS market — but each launch proves a point of strength and potential for Google. No matter how strong Google's renewed sense of importance on in-house developed hardware is (and how great the Pixels are), it knows how Android got to massive market position it currently occupies: by partnering with companies to build against its platform. And as Android on phones (and to a far lesser extent, tablets) continues to be a worldwide market leader, Google is working a slightly different angle with other adjacent ecosystems — Android Wear and Chrome OS.
When Google is directly invested in a launch, the product seems to be stronger.
Google has far more control over the look, implementation and deployment of both Android Wear watches and Chrome OS computers. To that end, that's why you see stronger Google involvement in the creation, launch and marketing of such products. Look no further than the "designed with our friends at Google" printed prominently across the LG Watch Sport's box — this is very much a Google product, too. Chromebooks, by design, have strong Google influence just based on how the operating system works, but when you see the deep integration of Google's software with Samsung's hardware to make something like the Chromebook Pro's super-accurate stylus work flawlessly you can see the collaboration runs deep. Prominent positioning of the watches and Chromebook on the Google Store completes the circle.
When Google is thoroughly involved in the development, testing and release of these products, they tend to be better overall than if the companies had just gone on their own with no guidance. That's a win for those of us on the consumer side of things putting down money for hardware and software, both in terms of initial quality and long-term support.
And with that, a handful of other thoughts rattling around in my head:
- My initial response to Nexbit being snapped up by Razer was sadness, seeing an independent phone maker move on.
- But unfortunately, being purchased was the most likely scenario — either that, or folding entirely. It's a tough market out there for a scrappy upstart.
- Just two weeks from now we'll be deep in the MWC 2017 press conferences and product launches. It's shaping up to be a big show.
- With Samsung expected to hold off on launching the Galaxy S8 until April, the door's wide open for LG to make a big splash with the G6 at the end of February.
- The early leaks look promising, too — but LG has always provided plenty of intrigue, only to then come up short on implementation in recent years.
- Speaking of intrigue, BlackBerry Mobile has plenty of it right now. The "Mercury" launch will be exciting.
Have a great week, everyone.