Well, those of us who are into tech launches, anyway – my wife couldn’t care less about the Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2.
Within a month of each other, the world’s two tech behemoths unveiled a smorgasbord of new gear.
Apple launched a new suite of hardware upgrades, headlining with the new iPhones; Google, not willing to let that lie, came steaming in with the tech equivalent of a spinning back kick with their new hardware upgrades and the Pixel 2 phone.
But who won the Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2 battle? Who lost? Does it even matter?
Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2: Round one – The launch events
Somebody needs to burn the Silicon Valley Launch Playbook. I know Steve Jobs used to regularly smash these ten years ago, but bloody hell, these presentation formats were practically identical.
They were both two-hour slide-fests with slightly uncomfortable senior staff members presenting their products and ideas to a sea of laptop-toting worshippers.
They added some cool videos with beautiful west coast people to break the slide monotony, but I have no idea why you’d watch either of these presentations if you weren’t being paid to.
Sure, there were subtle differences in tone. Apple is maybe a bit warmer and sentimental; their spokespeople feel very comfortable talking about changing the world, and they seriously fetishise the design. Google’s more tech-led, with cooler videos.
The Pixel 2’s colours did raise a chuckle, though: Just Black, Kinda Blue, Clearly White. A funny contrast with Apple’s more pretentious instincts. But really, both of these presentations were, for the most part, interchangeable.
Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2: Round two – The messaging
Apple is the master of condensing a really complex piece of tech into a Greeting Card message. iPod – 1,000 songs in your pocket; iPhone – the most advanced phone ever made; iPad – the internet in your hand. It coins these phrases and repeatedly hits you over the head with them.
There was a bit of a struggle this time, because it launched the iPhone 8 and then instantly revealed a sexier, more futuristic phone. So, iPhone 8 felt like an anti-climax; iPhone X, though, is “the Future of iPhone”. This was also neatly tied back into the original iPhone vision, the messaging being tightly woven into post-launch communications.
In terms of video content, Apple tends to keep it focused, with limited content beyond the event, a sizzle video and the usual velvety-voiced Jony Ive gadget porn bit. But it was all perfectly produced and on message. As you’d expect.
Google, on the other hand, could’ve been a bit tighter. Its launch was feature-heavy, which is fine, and there was a strong emphasis on AI and machine learning all the way through. The post-launch message was “Ask more of your phone”.
This is an interesting theme that highlights the Digital Assistant feature, while also taking a subtle dig at Apple – the issue of storage also offered a not-so-subtle pot-shot. But it felt like a stronger, clearer, simpler articulation of these features was needed – this is something Apple would’ve nailed.
Another interesting thing Google did was launch a range of videos from YouTube stars that help you move from iPhone or transfer your data. These super-perky, super-attractive youngsters guide you through everything.
I think anybody over 30 would find these bundles of positivity hugely irritating, but it’s a definite tonal difference from iPhone. And maybe I’m just a bit grumpy.
Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2: Round three: The products
They all look nice and shiny and, well, pretty similar, to be honest. Google made a big deal out of AI, and some of its home products and earphones were really cool.
Apple mainly focused on the camera, AR and, weirdly, Animoji. But there were far too many products launched at the same time.
Apple launched five products, but all anybody talked about was the iPhone X.
Google launched eight new products amid lots of software enhancements, but there were so many features that if you blinked, you’d miss one and three more would come along to take their place.
It launched a pair of headphones that translate different languages in real time – how amazing is that? The only problem is, I discovered this in paragraph eight of an article about the launch. If you’ve reinvented Babelfish, it deserves a whole presentation of its own, rather than being bolted on as a tasty extra.
Back when Apple launched the iPhone, they just launched the iPhone. That was it.
Now, these things just feel bloated and packed. Both Apple and Google need to think about breaking these up into smaller events. I know they want to hit the Christmas market, but the fact is that if each of these products is as revolutionary as their creators claim, they deserve their own day in the sun.
Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2: Round four – Reception
Apple suffered from launching the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X at the same time. iPhone 8 orders are low, because naturally people are holding out for the iPhone X – it pretty much eclipsed everything else.
With Google, it’s early days, but the sheer number of products and features have made a lot of noise. The basic message was that Google has launched lots of stuff including phones, but it was too much – unlike Apple, which had a clear headline grabber. Google had lots of great products, but they didn’t deliver a true knockout.
Apple iPhone versus Google Pixel 2: Who won?
I don’t know. I’m on the canvas being battered by impossibly beautiful devices. Somebody throw in the towel, I’m done.
Martin Flavin, creative director at Five by Five