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Google’s new products look great, but they’re still no threat to Apple

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Google just announced its suite of new hardware for 2018, including the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones, Pixel Slate tablet, and Home Hub smart display. They look like great products for those who are committed to the Google ecosystem.

But there’s nothing about them that should cause Apple to start sweating yet. As impressed as we may be by some of what Google showcased on Tuesday, nothing about these products leads us to believe that they’re going to cause a significant shift of users away from Apple’s. iPhones, iPads, and HomePods aren’t going to suffer any significant sales losses from Google’s latest.

Pixel 3’s carrier problem

Pixel 3 is all about the camera. It was introduced as “the world’s best camera [put into] the world’s most helpful phone.” No doubt about it, the camera on the Pixel 3 looks fantastic. Google partnered with Annie Leibowitz to work on a project using it. Conde Nast shot several magazine covers with it. These are neat marketing stunts, but not new. Kira Pollack shot a bunch of Time covers, Georges Antoni shot a cover and photo spread for Elle Australia, and Miller Mobley shot a Billboard cover on iPhones, just to name a few.

The Pixel 3 has a bunch of great new photo features like Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, Night Sight, and a second wide-angle Group Selfie Cam. And of course, there’s unlimited photo storage on Google Photos.

night sight pixel 3 Google

Google took a direct shot at the iPhone XS in hyping its camera.

There are plenty of non-photo features worth keeping an eye on, too. The call screening feature seems legitimately useful, and the Pixel Stand wireless charger and software features makes the whole AirPower debacle seem even more embarrassing.

So why shouldn’t Apple worry about potential Pixel 3 switchers? Put simply, because Google is foolishly selling the Pixel 3 through only a single retail carrier: Verizon. Sure, you can buy an unlocked phone directly from Google and run it on any network, but that’s just not how people buy phones. Carriers sell more than half of all smartphones, with Apple Stores and Best Buy accounting for another 25 percent or so. When a customer wants a new phone, they usually go to their carrier store to get an upgrade, usually opting to pay a payment plan that locks them in to that carrier.

The Pixel and Pixel 2 also had better cameras than the iPhones of their time. They had neat AI tricks throughout the operating system. And yet, they didn’t even slow down iPhone sales, which continue to break records. The Pixel 3 can’t compete if it’s just not sold where people buy phones. By sticking with Verizon as the sole carrier retail partner for the third year in a row, Google is trying the same thing again and hoping for a different result.

Pixel Slate targets Microsoft Surface

Google said the Pixel Slate “isn’t a laptop trying to be a tablet (because who wants a fan in their tablet?) or a tablet that’s really a phone pretending to be a computer.” Those are shots fired at the Microsoft Surface Pro and iPad, clearly.

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