Google has long used a fairly hands-off approach to produce their devices, partnering with trusted manufacturers and allowing them to build products like Chromebooks or Nexus phones to Google’s specifications. Aside from experimenting with products like the Chromecast, Google doesn’t design and manufacture its hardware from start to finish in the same way that Apple does. This approach is not without its fair share of criticism, and it may be about to change.
Earlier this month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other big names on the company’s payroll spoke to both colleagues and outsiders about taking top-down control over the Nexus line that had been previously manufactured by companies like LG, Samsung, and Huawei. The tech giant wants to cut out the middleman and make a through-and-through Google product that their team will have complete control over from the conception phase to the storefront. Though they will still source materials from other companies, the final product will be a true Google Nexus, without any other manufacturer’s stamp on it. This will be a significant change in Google’s structure, but it may solve a number of known issues present in previous versions of the Nexus and result in both more profitability for the company and a better product for consumers. It will also likely raise Google’s influence in the higher-end device market and make the choice between Android and IOS harder than ever before.
This transition may not be good news for everyone. Insiders report that HTC was poised to take over the contract for the next Nexus device, partnering with Google to manufacture the lucrative project. It is unclear at this point whether that will still happen, making HTC the last company to jointly build a Nexus phone before Google takes matters into its own hands, or whether the deal will fall through.
Pointing to Pixel
Those excited for this change in procedure point to Google’s previous dabbling in top-to-bottom manufacturing that resulted in excellent, high quality products like the Pixel. The Pixel is a favorite in various tech communities that praise it for its innovation, performance, and well-executed design. Many take this success as a sign that Google exerting more control over its products during the manufacturing process will lead to higher quality products all around. From what we can tell so far, it certainly seems that this model can naturally lead to the inclusion of more innovative features.
This move to in-house manufacturing is not a new phenomenon in the industry. Apple, of course, has implemented this business model from the very beginning with its iPads, iPhones, and newer products, but recently Microsoft has taken to it as well. With its new Surface Pro and Surface Book, Microsoft was able to keep key features of the design hidden until the official public release of the product, which made a huge impact. The team was also able to tweak the plans over a long period of time until they came up with the perfect design for “the ultimate laptop.” This was all made possible because Microsoft was controlling the entire manufacturing process itself. If the examples set by Apple, Microsoft, and, to a limited extent, Google are anything to go by, top-to-bottom control over products results in a higher level of innovation and quality all around. While smartphones and other tech devices aren’t the be all end all in life, they just keep getting cooler and cooler.
Author: Kayla Robbins