What Google needs to beat the iPhone

It's clear that no Android OEM has the clout to compete head-to-head with Apple. But a company that could have the influence and power to do that is Google.

What would Google need to go head-to-head against Apple and the iPhone?

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A report suggests that Google could be preparing to unveil a new smartphone to compete with Apple's iPhone. On the face of it, that seems like a colossal task, given that the iPhone pulls in 80 percent of the smartphone profits with only 20 percent of the sales.

See also: Being open source is killing Android

There's no doubt that Google is a company that potentially has the power and influence - not to mention the cash - to enter a battle with Apple and the iPhone, but it will not be able to afford to repeat the mistakes made by a long line of Android OEMs over the years.

Here are just some of the problems that Google would need to address in order to have a hope of beating the iPhone.

Differentiation

When you look at the Android landscape, it's a sea of sameness. Compare that to the iPhone, which stands unique.

If Google has a hope of going head-to-head against Apple, then it needs a device that stands out from the crowd. And that itself could change the Android landscape significantly.

Custom Android

One way that Google could differentiate its hardware from other Android hardware is to create a custom version of Android that is unique to Google. This would likely be a proprietary, closed-source version that Google could license to other manufacturers as it saw fit.

This version of Android would likely be backward compatible with existing apps, but would introduce new features that would make Google's hardware stand above the competition.

A massive and sustained ad campaign

Apple spends millions of dollars on advertising. Google would have to dig deep and show potential buyers what its hardware offers.

The right pricing

Anything that Google came out with would have to be cutting-edge high-end, but the pricing has to be close to, or possibly lower than, that of the iPhone. Right now, only Apple is Apple, and the market for Android handsets that have an iPhone price tag isn't that big. And Google's been selling Nexus devices for long enough to know this.

Not Nexus

As good as the Nexus brand has been for Google, it's still "just another Android smartphone." Any new device that was designed to compete with the iPhone would need to come with fresh branding.

High-end hardware

Goes without saying, but there can be no skimping on the quality of the hardware. Everything - the display, processor, battery, and the chassis - will need to be the best available.

AI and voice assistants that work

This is an area where Apple is weak and Google is strong, and it would benefit it greatly to take advantage of the situation (because, let's be fair, Apple doesn't have many weak spots).

Custom accessories

A hardware ecosystem will need more than just a smartphone. I would expect Google to launch a tablet and smartwatch in order to make the ecosystem seem as credible as possible.

Solid support and customer service

Apple scores highly when it comes to customer satisfaction, and Google would need to put a mechanism in place to offer the highest possible level of support for its customers.

Time

Google is not going to beat Apple overnight. It's going to be a long, expensive battle fought over several years.

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