October 3rd, 2016. It’s the evening before Google’s big, BIG hardware event and I’m reading articles about what to expect — on my iPhone.
It arrived Saturday. A gently used, out-of-warranty 6S Plus with 64 GB of memory. I opened the packaging, tossed in my SIM card and booted up, putting my beloved Nexus 6P in my “tech drawer”. This is strange because anyone who knows me for more than 15 minutes knows that I am a die-hard Android user. Yet here I am. The day before what could very well be a massive shift in your hardware and software strategy and I sit… somewhat cynical, somewhat disheartened, somewhat empty.
Every year, I wait anxiously for this time of the year — the official announcement and reveal of the New Nexus phone. Sometimes I’m interested (Nexus 4), sometimes I’m baffled and put off (Nexus 6), and sometimes I’m so deeply in love that I sell literally every device with a screen that I have in order to justify splurging on one (my beloved Nexus 6P). But year after year, we take a step forward, a step sideways, and a step back. I feel like we don’t really go anywhere.
To call the Nexus program “successful” would be like saying that last season of “How I Met Your Mother” was “watchable”.* Ultimately it has ended up being a mixed bag of sometimes very good, very capable but poorly marketed flagships and sometimes very confusing, very clumsy attempts to break into the mainstream. Your latest attempt, the Nexus 6P and 5X were a bit of both.
Meanwhile, the iPhone is the most popular phone in all of America. I’m a second-class citizen to app developers, content providers and in the eyes of the general public because I tout your Android operating system. That preference also means getting used to “Available now for iOS — coming soon (if ever) to Android”, near-daily click-bait articles about how Android is unsafe and plagued by malware (which, by the way, isn’t true), third-party accessories having limited to no products that integrate with Android devices. But I like the way Android works, so I stick around, hoping that with each generation of software and hardware, we get closer to some sort of social equity to our Apple-powered counterparts.
You recently launched a brand of in-house hardware under the name Pixel. As a brand, Pixel hardware is supposed to be high-end, top-tier spec hardware — I think. The first and second generation Chromebook Pixels were great, but overpriced and the Pixel C tablet… I think we can admit you never should have launched it at all; it had great hardware but it was meant to run Chrome OS, not Android, right? So the Pixel line means more mixed messages. And now that the Nexus-branded phones are being replaced with the launch of Pixel-branded phones tomorrow, I’m not sure what to think.
Like Google Wave, Google Reader, Google+, Google Talk, Google Voice, Huddle, and Hangouts that came before, what’s to stop you from changing course and either abandoning or killing off the project? It’s not a matter of trust, but expectation. When you say you want to build top-tier hardware, I expect you to do it and do it well. When you say you want to be player in the smartphone market, I expect you to be 100% committed.
Back to that iPhone currently residing on my desk — it’s for my dad. I couldn’t help but try it out for a week or so to see how the other half lives, so to speak. I can’t say I love it, but I can’t say I hate it either. I miss my Nexus 6P. But I miss being promised something and actually getting it. I miss not having to wait for “the coming months” and updates to get functionality that should have been available Day One (looking at you, Hangouts and Allo).
I’m going to go back to my Nexus 6P soon as soon as the iPhone novelty wears off. And I’m going to watch your even tomorrow with high hopes. I’ll be expecting that you keep whatever promises you make tomorrow. I expect that this time next year, you’ll be iterating on these products, not abandoning them. Because if not, I can’t guarantee I can stick around much longer, even though I really, really want to.
Don’t let me down.
*For the record, I LOVE “How I Met Your Mother”. Ask anyone.