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Google’s hardware plan is to follow Apple, and it’s genius

by Danny Zepeda | October 4, 2017October 4, 2017 3:15 pm PDT

Google took the stage today and announced a slew of new products, among them the sequel to the Pixel, a brand new laptop and a premium home speaker.

Looking at Google’s product line-up, you may have noticed something quite peculiar: most of these products you’ll find Apple is already selling. In fact, today’s event was an almost verbatim assault from the search giant.

Before you come at me with pitchforks, just take a look this breakdown.

  • iPhone › Pixel
  • HomePod › Google Home Max
  • iPad Pro › Pixelbook
  • AirPods › Pixel Buds
  • Apple Pencil › Pixelbook Pen

Google taking on Apple in the smartphone market is one thing, but Google taking on Apple in nearly every other category is something entirely different. It’s a systematic approach to combat Apple at every level, and it’s a genius move by Google.

You may call it copying, but Apple (and now Google) will say its just smart business.

Instead of Google paving a new road that only has two outcomes (success or failure), it’s instead following Apple down an established path of success that has way better odds. This is a move Apple perfected with its products and features (think iPod and Touch ID). Apple was not the first, but it was definitely the best. Google has stolen this business tactic and is flipping the tables on Apple.

This is no more evident with Google’s masterful pricing scheme. When Apple introduces an expensive product, it’s instantly criticized—most loudly by Android and Google fans. But quietly, Google is now selling similarly priced or even more expensive products.

Last year when when Apple introduced the $159 AirPods, most critics scoffed at the insane price tag. There was obvious negative blowback, but Apple dealt with it. Today, it’s still difficult to find a pair.

Google just so happened to take the wraps off its own wireless earphones in the Pixel Buds for the same exact price.

The same rationale applies to the Home Max price ($399), introduction of a tablet hybrid with a dedicated stylus and exclusion of the headphone jack on the Pixel 2. Google even sells a $20 dongle to connect regular headphone jacks to the Pixel 2. That more than doubles Apple’s $9 headphone jack dongle. If that’s not a highjacking of Apple’s DNA, I don’t know what is.

These moves aren’t to beat Apple, but to provide an alternative in a market Apple created. That in and of itself is Google’s ultimate goal. It’s just picking up some of the would-be Apple customers that prefer Google’s ecosystem with exactly the same products.

You don’t want Apple’s expensive earphones or luxury home speaker? No problem, buy Google’s instead.

Will Google be as successful as Apple? Unlikely. Apple has a clear lead in selling hardware while Google is just a newbie. Just take a look at the paltry sales numbers from the first Pixel phones. But Google doesn’t care about sales right now, it just wants to make products as it continues to establish its hardware business, which now involves a lot of people from HTC.

Copying is not sexy nor innovative, but it is damn lucrative. Apple figured this out over a decade ago, and now Google has, too.


Danny Zepeda

Born and raised in Southern California, Danny grew up on a steady diet Pixar, Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. Unbeknownst to him, this was...

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