The Pixel C: When Google Admitted They Never Innovate
Yay! Woohoo! Hip-hip-hooray! Google/Alphabet released new stuff yesterday!
Personally, I don’t give a shit. The phones they announced are pretty much meaningless (but then, what phones aren’t these days?), and don’t offer anything REALLY new. Or at least, certainly not innovative. Iterative? Oh yes. Most companies offer “iterativeness” (that’s not a word, but it should be now) in spades. Apple. Google. You can go down the list. They’re releasing more and more bullshit every year.
But Alphabet/Google is really taking the cake this time. I haven’t seen a more depressing Alphabet/Google event in a while (and I used to be a Google fanboy, too). From the Chomecast Audio (why is this even a separate device?), to the Nexus 6P-on-yourself, to the Google Play Music All-Access Family Plan (say that three times fast), consumer culture was handed a pile of shit that won’t do anything drastically different than whatever devices you already have will do for you.
So as you can probably see, I’m not going to do a review of Alphabet/Google’s new phones here. No, no…I could just copy and paste reviews from past phone reviews and you would essentially get the gist: it’s another goddamned smartphone. Hail Apple! Hail Google! Fanboy-talk. Yada yada yada.
There, that’s out of the way.
Alphabet/Google did release one interesting product yesterday, however, and it was one that not many were expecting. As readers of this blog know, the Dark Android Project takes a particular interest in Android tablets (because I think–provably–SIM cards are security holes at this point in time). And Alphabet/Google did announce (you can’t buy it yet) a tablet yesterday: The Pixel C. As Daniel Jackson said in Stargate, “Kinuu-ma-yay” (“Take a look“).
Specifications for it aren’t that important. Suffice to say, it’s a pretty powerful 10″ Android tablet (thanks to a Tegra X1 processor from NVIDIA–a company that, you know, actually innovates), and it costs $500. Regardless of the fact that that price–for what most people do with an Android tablet–is ridiculously high, and you can get much better tablets for much cheaper, this will likely be the most powerful Android device on the market. And as far as one thing that will be in its favor, it will likely have a cult community around it that will keep updating it for years with great alternative OS’ and software (even though Alphabet/Google will likely do a good job of updating it, too). That’s about the only advantage that any Nexus–and now Pixel–device has: consistent updating (read about how my favorite tablet, the 2013 Nexus 7, will be getting Android Marshmallow).
But the buck stops there. The reality of the Pixel C tablet is awash with Google’s lack of innovation and originality. First off, take another look at its design. Google just pulled an Apple, and copied the only innovative tech device since the iPod: the Surface Pro. The keyboard cover, the solid magnetic attachment…slap a pen on it and you’d have a Surface Pro–without the ability to run Windows apps, however. And for many, that makes it a productivity loser. Apple will find itself in a similar bind with the iPad Pro, don’t you worry.
Ironically, some of the more popularly astute Alphabet/Google fanboys aren’t taking to the device either. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not appreciating the Pixel C because if they did, it would be a quiet admission (like the Apple fanboys have done with the iPad Pro) that the once-insulted (by both Google and Apple fanboys and employees) Microsoft Surface Pro is actually a great device. And we wouldn’t want Microsoft to get any credit now would we!
And relax, slapnuts, I’m not some kind of Microsoft fanboy, either. I just give credit where it’s due. In fact, want to talk about innovation in smartphones? Microsoft’s Continuum Windows 10 Mobile technology…now that is genuinely innovating. A REAL PC in your pocket, just hook up the adapter and go to town more-or-less like you were on a desktop. That’s “thinking different” (here’s looking at you Apple).
But back to the Shixel C…I mean Pixel C. One thing that some have praised about it is the “Pixel” branding itself. Some have applauded the intra-company competition that two lines of products (Nexus and Pixel) will create. While I understand the point and could even agree with it (think Sony/Aiwa back in the day), I don’t think that has anything to do with the decision process here. I think calling it a “Pixel” device comes down to the simple fact that the Nexus 10 was a flop, and the Nexus 9 has been a flop, as well. When it comes to tablets (other than the Nexus 7), the Nexus line has been synonymous with overpriced garbage. It’s that simple. Yeah, I can see them trying to shoot for a premium brand name (which “Nexus” certainly isn’t), but I still think it more simply comes down to getting the “Nexus” name away from tablets.
And another point. Something I have mentioned on this site and on my science and tech podcast–Sovryn Tech–over and over again is that touchscreens…SUUUUCCKKKKKK if you want to actually do something important (or fun, like play REAL video games). The iPad Pro and the Pixel C both prove this point, as keyboard covers are their highlights (Microsoft never needed to prove it, they never really ditched the keyboard). The touchscreen may be a good auxiliary control option (like “keyboard nipples” can be on ThinkPad’s), or good for Point-of-Sale systems, but it was never going to be good enough to be THE primary interface, and companies that concentrate on “productivity” (instead of “stupidity”) have always known this.
But I want to touch once more on the fact that this device proves a long-standing and long-avoided fact about Alphabet/Google: the company hasn’t successfully innovated since its search engine was released (and maybe Gmail). What has Google made that is successful? YouTube? They bought that out. Chromebooks? Cheap Linux-based laptops isn’t a new idea (hey there, netbooks!). Google GLASS? Failure. Google+? Are you fucking serious? What about Android? They bought out the company, they didn’t build it. You can keep going down the list of Alphabet/Google products and you’ll either find abject failure, or you’ll find that they bought out a company/product/service they themselves didn’t create. Alphabet/Google is–amazingly in such a short existence–a “has-been” of a company. Even its search engine and map dominance will get wiped out by Apple in the next few years (lots of stories and research about this is out there, and you can actually use DuckDuckGo to find it).
To wrap it all up, the Pixel C is a powerful tablet, no doubt. It could probably serve very well as a Dark Android device, too. But what it really is…is proof. Proof that Alphabet/Google doesn’t have an innovative bone in its body. That’s probably the main reason why they created the parent company Alphabet in the first place…so that they could get into industries other than “computers” while they still make enough money to make a dent in them. Google’s position as a “tech giant” is looking awfully grim.
And in my opinion: Good.