After a highly successful first Pixel phone launch and a more or less decent Pixel 2, Google’s performance in the smartphone market has been anything but stellar. As a company notorious for making and then dropping even extremely expensive projects (hello Google Glass!), there have definitely been some concerns whether Google is in it for the long haul. Google and now also Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai assures that the company is, but it might not be for the reasons Android faithful might have been hoping for.
Pichai sidesteps The Verge’s questions about the recent performance of Pixel phones and the departure of key execs in that division by saying that Google is still undergoing a period of integration. To be fair, the first Pixel phone launched barely four years ago and Google is still coming to grips with its Nest smart home products. Hardware is hard, the CEO says, and it takes time to get things right.
He, however, says that they are taking the long-term view of an ecosystem that integrates hardware, software, and services together. After all, Google isn’t just a hardware company nor is it even just a software or services company only. In the past years, it has grown to be a giant with fingers dipped in many areas, all for the sake of driving computing forward.
That’s basically the grand vision that Google has for all of its efforts, including its Pixel phones, Nest Hub devices, and Chromebooks. Unlike phone manufacturers whose interests and profits revolve around selling phones by the millions, Google’s hardware business is pretty much subservient to that grand computing vision. At the risk of dashing the hopes of Android or Chrome OS fans, even those platforms are pretty much just vehicles and means, not the end.
Of course, Pichai admits that its hardware business has to be sustainable for that synergy to happen. Unfortunately, he gives no hints at how Google plans to do exactly that, considering the disappointing sales figures of its hardware products. Pichai doesn’t seem to be in a hurry because of the company’s long-term vision but, unfortunately, the market doesn’t always wait for the stars to align perfectly.