Google’s fall hardware event comes at an uncomfortable time. The company just unceremoniously announced that it would shut down its Stadia cloud gaming service in early 2023. The company also canceled its upcoming Pixelbook well into its development and redistributed the team working on it to other parts of the company.
Google has never had the best track record for sticking with its hardware concepts, but with increasingly ominous messages coming from the top about cost cutting and hiring slowdowns, now seems like a particularly unlucky time to be Made By Google.
This is the backdrop against which Google will fully unveil the long-teased Pixel 7 and 7 Pro and the even longer-teased Pixel Watch. Regarding the latter, the assignment is simple: don’t suck. “Maybe it’ll get better next year” has been the mantra for Android owners hoping for better wearables for the better part of the last five years. Things have been looking up as Google slowly made moves to improve its smartwatch offerings by acquiring Fitbit and unifying its own platform with Samsung’s Tizen with Wear OS 3. But progress has been slow, and in the meantime, Apple has been running laps around Android’s smartwatch options. The bar may be low, but the wait has been long, and Google has run out of time for any more false starts.
As for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, Google doesn’t need to look so far into its past to understand what not to do — only as far as last year. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro marked a shift for the entire Pixel brand, as Google introduced its custom Tensor chipset and positioned its devices as true flagship competitors for the first time. It also put a massive marketing effort behind the 6 and 6 Pro, something it hadn’t done in the past.
It did everything to set the stage properly... and then Android 12 happened. Early Pixel 6 and 6 Pro owners encountered numerous bugs, and Google attempted to squash them with security patches, sometimes creating new bugs in the process. It was a rocky launch that didn’t feel fitting of true flagship status. In the meantime, Samsung’s stranglehold over the US Android phone market only got stronger.
If there’s any chance of making a dent in the Apple / Samsung duopoly, Google needs to offer a complete mobile ecosystem: a flagship device, a high-end smartwatch, the whole shebang. It’s 2022; Samsung and Apple have been offering mature ecosystems for years. At this point, there’s no more time left on the clock for Google.