Apple and Samsung Electronics periodically trade places dominating the smartphone market.
However, Apple recently angered many by removing the headphone jack from its latest devices, and Samsung Electronics blew a crater into the cellphone market with its latest feature, exploding batteries. These missteps by two top players may have created an opportunity just in time for the holiday shopping season, an opportunity that Alphabet's Google (GOOGL - Get Report) seems to have seized on with the perfectly timed release of the Pixel.
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Technology industry reviews of the Pixel have rated it spectacularly. It is even being called Google's Android iPhone.
Most reviews point to the software and hardware integration is tight (similar to an iPhone), the camera is being touted as the best available, and it is the most powerful phone on the market in terms of computing. Also, Google's Pixel is by definition unlocked, so anyone can buy the device anywhere and use it with any cell phone carrier.
All that is great, but the main feature seems to be Google Assistant, a Siri-like personal assistant program that is integrated into the device.
Demand for usable personal assistant technology has been gaining steam since Apple's Siri, but most every device has left much to be desired. However, by all reports Google Assistant is usable, smart and can really help consumers manage an ever growing list of Google's services.
Make no mistake though. Google makes its money through digital advertising, not hardware or software.
In digital marketing, we don't tend to focus on the hardware or the software but rather the channel and how many people are using it. Every time someone does a search through Google and clicks on one of the promoted results, the company makes a few dollars.
By creating its own phone with an integrated personal assistant, Google has created another channel to promote its own advertisers and make even more money. It is artificial intelligence that pays for itself, and that is why it will get better faster.
Apple and Samsung Electronics have nothing like it.