Google is 'super committed' to its hardware program, including Pixel phones: CEO

Pixel 4 in all colors
Pixel 4 in all colors (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai explains the company's reasoning for making their own hardware.
  • For smartphones and other hardware, the company has long-term plans which it remains fixated on.
  • The past few years have marked an intergation with both the HTC team and the Nest hardware team, effectively acting as a stage setter.

Google's Pixel line has been a bit of a hot topic since a report via The Information revealed that each new Pixel was selling less than the previous iteration, including the Pixel 3a which reportedly sold less than the Pixel 3. The report also carried with it pieces of palace drama, including the exit of the Pixel camera lead and the dissaifaction of Google's Rick Osterioh with the Pxel 4's battery.

Despite those reports, Alphabet's CEO Sundar Pichai says that the company will be forging ahead with its hardware pursuits.

In an interview with The Verge, Pichai explained:

The last couple of years have been a major integration phase for us because we've combined our Google hardware efforts with Nest. We absorbed the mobile division of HTC. So it's been a lot of stitching together. And we have a wide product portfolio, too. So it's definitely been a building phase. We're super committed to it for the long run. Hardware is hard. And it definitely has components, which take real time to get it right, thinking about underlying silicon or display or camera or any of those tacks. And so we are definitely investing in it, but that timeline. I think we've made a lot of progress. Pixel 3A last year was one of our highest NPS-rated products ever, and definitely even benchmarked outside. So to me, it's a clear indication we have made a lot of progress.

On the hardware side specifically, Pichai explained the reasoning behind building their own devices. It's a question that's worth asking when the Android and Chrome OS ecosystems are dominated with tightly designed, critically acclaimed, and consumer embraced products from OEMs like OnePlus and Samsung.

Pichai narrowed it down to three main points:

One is to drive computing forward. The second is we really guide our ecosystem. Pretty much everything we've done well, you can go all the way back and Android's early days, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which we worked together, was a pivotal phone. Nexus 7 in the tablet world. I can point to Chromebooks — all along, we did our original hardware to kind of bootstrap it. And I look at areas maybe where we haven't done opinionated [work] — maybe [smart]watch is a good example where we haven't. And then you can see it's tough to guide an ecosystem to what your vision of it is, just building the underlying platform.So I think that's the second reason. And third is to really build a sustainable hardware business. I think all of it is important, and that's how I think about it. And I'm excited. Rick [Osterloh] and team, working closely with Hiroshi [Lockheimer] and team, they have that long-term view. So we're pretty committed to it.

Pichai's comments help contextualize the Pixel's long-term goals, but there's at the same time no denying that Google's current strategy isn't resonating as strongly with consumers as it would need to to "build a sustainable business." And that's still a problem.

Google Pixel 4 XL review, 6 months on: A love-hate relationship

Michael Allison
  • Google needs its hardware business to push its services. Plain and simple.
  • When Google stop listening to phone reviewers and their nitpicky reviews and start listening to everyday consumers. Put back the damn headphone jack and expandable storage and price it around $350!! My photos don't have to be perfect, just very good!!
  • Google should still have their flagship phones without the headphone jack just not priced so damn high and have their mid-range "a" phones starting at $350 - $399 with the headphone.
  • They don't include expandible storage to get you to use their services, like drive and photo storage in the hopes you will need more, and pay for it.
  • How in the world did Essential and One+ manage to produce exceptional HW and Google says it's "hard"????
    Google actually got the hardest part figured out - the camera. The rest of trivial relatively speaking and companies I mentioned are the proof.
    Something doesn't add up her
  • I agree, almost every company including some of the cheap Chinese ones make great looking phones with great hardware. Google has the resources to get the best people but can't seem to get even basic things like decent battery life which then led to having to gimp one of its main features, the higher refresh screen. How can such a massive company not get such basic things right???
  • Get the basics right, great screen, great battery life, clean software, great cameras great reception (it is a phone after all) water resistance, wireless charging and maybe add a headphone jack as an added bonus then build from there with the 'extras'. Price it lower than Samsung and Apple and market it well (Google has the cash to do this) and stay commited to 3 OS updates.
  • "We absorbed the mobile division of HTC......" I can see where this is going....... Actually, they should have stuck with Samsung for the pixel hardware instead of absorbing from failed manufacturers.
  • "Super Committed"? Tell that to the thousands of people who have had their camera on Pixel 2 through 4 become completely unusable. Look at the Camera App on the Google Play store and sort by most recent. Literally one star reviews for months. Google has yet to address this and is losing customers left and right.