Why I’m Google-Grumpy

My new Google Pixel phone arrived more than a week ago. I opened it only last night. I also got a return authorization last night, so I wouldn’t miss the deadline for a refund. I now have 14 days to decide whether to keep the thing and in doing so forgive Google for slighting its best customers. Here’s why I’m being so grumpy about this phone:

  1. I am utterly fed up with Google’s stubborn insistence on treating its paying G Spot (oh, sorry, G Suite, formerly Apps) customers as second-class citizens. I’m seeing all over Twitter that people with G Suite accounts will not get the full power of Google Assistant on our expensive new phones. Enough, Google, enough! I’ve made this a joke on TWiG but it’s not funny. It’s disrespect for your customers. It’s a rip-off. It’s shameful that you can’t fix this simple problem: Let me decide to merge data from accounts and give you permission to dip into whatever calendar, email, and photos I decide for services such as Assistant. You’re the smartest, most powerful company on earth. Your own employees suffer from having multiple accounts. You know what you’re doing to us out here. Fix it, once and for all, fix it.
  2. Getting Google Assistant only on the new Pixel phone is marketing bullshit. There is apparently *nothing* about that phone that makes it alone capable of handling Assistant. If you want to root your older Google phone, you can get it. That means Google is restricting Assistant to the Pixel just to boost the Pixel’s fortunes, to give a unique feature to a phone that otherwise doesn’t really have one. And thus, Google is treating loyal Android customers who choose not to spend almost a grand on a phone as, once again, second-class citizens. I want to use and understand the power of Google Assistant but I really don’t appreciate being forced to spend $1,000 for the privilege.
  3. The phone is shamefully overpriced. Mine costs almost $1,000. The tear-down cost is much less, of course. I feel like I did when I ending up spending more than $2,000 on Google Glass: like an idiot and a schmuck. This is how a company filled with billionaires prices its products. Sure, the Pixel has a better camera. But for a grand, I can buy one helluva camera.
  4. The Pixel also supports Google’s new Daydream VR; Google is throwing in a viewer (made of cloth not cardboard) for us early buyers. For my job, I want to experience what Google can do now in VR. But does that occasional use make the device worth a grand?

I’m a longtime Google fanboy. I’ve defended the company and I’ve been critical of it. But this phone made me feel just plain disappointed in Google. Because I’m a fan, I expect better of it. I’ll try the phone. I don’t know what I’ll decide. No matter what, I’m grumpy about it.

ALSO: The Pixel screen next to my Nexus 6P screen is dull and blue. And I’ve tried to transfer data to the new phone for more than two hours and finally gave up.

Blogger & prof at CUNY’s Newmark J-school; author of Geeks Bearing Gifts, Public Parts, What Would Google Do?, Gutenberg the Geek

Blogger & prof at CUNY’s Newmark J-school; author of Geeks Bearing Gifts, Public Parts, What Would Google Do?, Gutenberg the Geek