I admit it. I am a Google fanboy. It’s not that I love Google at the exclusion of any other company. I appreciate the merits of Apple’s business model as well as the thoughtful design of Microsoft's Surface devices. However, there’s something about that #4885ed Google Blue that spices up my life more so than #3b5998 Facebook Blue could ever do. Is it bias? Considering I am legally color blind, the answer is an affirmative yes. However, this bias has not blinded me to the fundamental difference between a company like Google and one like Apple. At Apple, the customer - the revenue generator - is you and me, the consumer. Though many of their decisions may be viewed as anti-consumer (e.g. the #donglelife), much can be said about their comparatively strong customer service as well as the fact that a part of the “Apple Tax” for their products goes toward the maintenance of brick and mortar facilities to which you can bring a broken device and receive a repair or replacement on the spot.
On the other hand we have Google, and Google has customers, too. But those customers are neither you nor me. Google’s lifeblood is advertising, and the essential nutrient for ads is data - our data. We the consumers are not Google’s customers. Rather, we are batteries that power Google’s cash advertising engine. While this information is probably not new to most of you, nor is it to me, it helps to explain why Google can't successfully sell a product to save its life (which, at the moment, it has no need to do).
Google’s inability to make a successful play in the consumer space is no more apparent than with the Pixel. Google’s first attempt at a “true” Google Phone (R.I.P Nexus) has been a success, but one with reservations. The Pixel is a solid phone. So is the OnePlus 3T. Sure the OP3T lacks the Pixel’s camera, but it is otherwise decent and happens to cost $400 less than a comparable Pixel XL - and is generally available for purchase, which the Pixel most certainly is not. Let’s also just pause for a minute to acknowledge the tone-deaf hubris of charging $30 for a poorly-made clear plastic case. Sure Apple charges Pixel prices, but if my iPhone is defective I can go to an Apple Store, get a replacement on the spot, and have some peace of mind that the extra expense went to maintaining this store and the general customer service model. With Google, the extra cost goes to the bottom line and maybe a month-long replacement process of ‘ship and pray’ with buggy refurbished replacements and full-price holds on my credit card.
In my mind, the Nexus program was much truer to Google's “essence.” Nexus users, of which I was one, were willing batteries, providing our data, input, and patience to Google with the promise of reasonably priced hardware, decent specifications, a clean Android experience, and quick updates in return. Granted, despite the aforementioned caveats and the niche market, some of the shortfalls of the Nexus program were simply unacceptable by any standard for a product marketed and sold to consumers.
Now we have the Pixel poseur masquerading as the poster child for a Google that cares about the consumer. While the software experience has been generally solid and bugs are being more regularly acknowledged and addressed, the high price, lack of new stock, and sorry replacement process show the pig under the lipstick. Google is still using us to acquire data on product demand and how much people value - in cash - a clean Android experience and quick updates. Once they have our data, we consumers are left holding the bag with a bitter taste in our mouths.
Before I get too far down this rabbit hole I must remind myself that I am not the customer, and that I still admire Google for its pie in the sky curiosity and drive to experiment like the Bell Labs of old. So why as a consumer do I continue to throw my money at a lover who couldn't care less? Because I am a fanboy and because, I guess, being Google Blue is better than being some other kind of blue.