Quick thoughts on ‘Made By Google’

Daniel Conrad
Oct 4, 2016 · 2 min read

(Hi — if you don’t know me, I worked on Google’s Android team back in the days of the Nexus One, the first piece of hardware Google sold. Thought I’d share my thoughts on Google’s new big push into hardware.)

Some immediate reactions to today’s Made By Google announcement:

  • The $650 phone price sucks. Clearly they’re pricing in retail margins so they can push this through the retail/carrier channel, which is where most phones are sold. I personally would have been much more excited to see a $199 or $299 pretty-good phone. Or an annual subscription model that gives me a good phone every year. I drop phones far too often to pay $650 for one. So to me, the Pixel phone isn’t the big story here.
  • No single device feels very exciting by itself. They feel like catch-up: Home -> Echo, Wi-Fi -> Eero, Pixel -> iPhone.
  • The combination of all these devices, taken together, is really compelling. Home works with the $35 Chromecast and Chromecast Audio for multi-room streaming, backed by a high-quality mesh router system. “Play this YouTube video in my living room.” That’s killer.
  • Home is sexy and looks well thought-through. The touch interface is important and rad. (Along with Echo, Home is why we at Beep got out of this business.)
  • I don’t know how Eero will respond to Google Wi-Fi, though they’ve known this was coming and probably have something up their sleeve. It’s tough to compete with a company that doesn’t care about making money.
  • On Home v. Echo, Google has tremendous advantages on machine learning, deep integration with search, and integration with your personal data (calendar, email, etc). But Amazon has a year head-start on product, and their pace of execution has been astounding. Will be a tight race. (Hey Apple, are you still playing?)
  • It’s kind of hilarious that $3.2B didn’t really help Google win the home, but the skunkworks experiment Chromecast did. Chromecast forms the foundation of why-you-need-all-this-stuff. (It’s so hard to know what’s going to work, even if you’re as smart as the folks at Google and Nest.)
  • The biggest story is that Google is getting really fucking serious about hardware. Consider the size of the teams required to launch all of these products, each with engineering, supply-chain management, partnerships integration and support… plus all the internal coordination required to launch them all at roughly the same time.

Today Google stood up with a gaggle of devices and proclaimed their intention to be a player in the home. Amazon and Apple: your move.

Daniel is co-founder of Beep Networks, an enabler of easy-to-deploy long-range IoT networks and systems.

Daniel Conrad

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Sixth-generation Californian, early PM on Android and Access at Google, now co-founder at Beep Networks www.beepnetworks.com