Opinion: Why is the Google Pixel So Popular?

Google's Pixel and Pixel XL phones have been available for just over 2 months now. And it has one of the most talked about devices of 2016. Even before it was announced there were rumors about and a longing for a phone 'Made by Google' for a while. Ever since the first Nexus phone people have been wondering if there would ever be a Google branded phone. And now we have it.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me an interesting question. "Why did it take the Pixel to get people to switch (from iPhone)? It's expensive. Why did literally nobody I know get the 6P, yet so many people I know now have the Pixel?"

I've been asked this question a few times and have been thinking a lot about it recently. It's hard to not notice the popularity of the Pixel. I know quite a few people who have picked up the Pixel. Most of which aren't what you would call a 'tech enthusiast' either.

So what is it? What makes the Pixel so intriguing as to have so many people switch from iPhone or even another Android phone?

The first thing that goes into purchasing a phone is knowing what each phone has to offer. The Pixel is an outright flagship in every way. It has the latest Snapdragon processor, great battery life, excellent build quality, and an amazing camera. And just like the Nexus phones before it, it comes with the latest version of Android and will get the fastest updates in the Android ecosystem. This phone is an obvious choice for anyone looking to upgrade.

For me, getting a Pixel was kind of a no brainer. I had a Nexus 4, upgraded to the Nexus 6 and then pre-ordered the Pixel XL moments after it went live. It was just the next step in the pattern. The biggest thing that made me question buying it was the price. The 32 GB Pixel XL is $769. This is a fairly standard price for a flagship from Apple and Samsung. But for those used to Nexus prices, it's pretty high. The average Nexus price was closer to $500. And the phone you got for that price was pretty dang good. This is one factor that made me and a lot of other people question just how well the Pixel would be received.

But the more I've thought about it, I believe part of the reason for it's popularity is because of this price. People that are switching from an iPhone, in particular, are already used to this price. They are expecting to pay a premium price for a premium phone. At least when it comes to brand new hardware. I think that Google putting this premium price on it's first phone was smart. In order to convince people using other phones that come with a high price is to release a phone with a similar price. Not only that, but it also has to have as good of a build quality and specs as these other devices, which this Pixel definitely has.

Now don't get me wrong. Other companies have tried this approach. Sony and HTC have both put out comparatively priced phones with just as good or better build quality and specs. But those companies are both really struggling to get any market share in the mobile industry. Which leads me to my next point. Advertising.

When I was initially asked the question, this was my immediate response. Google is pushing the Pixel phone like crazy. Ever since the phone was announced I have seen a lot of commercials for it. Every major event on TV you can almost guarantee that there will be a couple Pixel commercials. Verizon and Best Buy are also helping with the push. Both companies are doing a lot of advertising and quite a few sales trying to get the Pixel noticed. And it's definitely working. Most people I know that have the phone purchased it from either Verizon or Best Buy.

There are also a variety of ways to purchase it. Both Google and Verizon have monthly installment plans that help make the price seem more bearable. Obviously you're still going to end up paying the same amount. But you don't have to have it all up front. You can also purchase it through Google Project Fi service if you're looking to ditch whatever carrier you're currently using. And don't fall for the 'Only on Verizon' line. Verizon is the only carrier you can buy it from. But it will work on any carrier. I am currently using the phone on AT&T.

And, of course, timing always helps. The Pixel was announced and went on sale not long after the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 started having it's issues and people were needing to get a new device. Obviously there was no way to know that the Note 7 would start to explode. But I think Google is definitely benefiting from this unfortunate event.

All of this being said the Google Pixel still has a long way to go compared to sales of the iPhone or the Galaxy S7. But for Google's first go at a self branded phone, I'd say the Pixel is definitely holding its own.