Google's Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones went on sale in India on October 25th.
The handset, Google's new flagship Android device, was announced in early October with India one of the first six countries in which it is launching.
Starting at Rs. 57,000 ($850 approx.), it's certainly pitched at the premium end of the market.
But with the Android OS enjoying a massive 97% market share in India, it's not hard to see why it's an interesting testing ground for the device.
At the same event at which it unveiled the Pixel, Google also announced the Daydream View VR headset.
Compatible with Daydream-compatible smartphones - the first of which is the Pixel - it's a Gear VR-competing mobile VR setup with a fabric exterior and support for head-tracking.
Unlike Pixel, Daydream View has yet to be announced for Indian launch. However, with India evidently an important market for Google, its eventual launch there would come as no surprise.
As such, we asked our Indian Mavens:
- How popular do you think Google Pixel can be in India compared to other smartphones?
- Can Daydream View significantly impact the level of VR hardware adoption in India?
This one is right up my alley. I am an ex-Apple user, and I finally switched loyalties last month.
It looks awesome and features top of the line specs. What else could one want?Chandan Mohanty
My iPhone 6 had conked out and I was in no mood to give Apple any more of my dollars. No more Matrix, I was ready to enter the real world.
I went and bought myself a Sony Xperia to get the Android experience. I reflected on my purchase later and decided that I only bought that phone because it was the only phone that looked as pretty as an iPhone. Sigh!
Now that I am an Android veteran of one month, I'm loving it. Every day I discover new tricks and feel happy.
When Google announced Pixel earlier this month, I was super excited. It looked awesome and featured top of the line specs. What else could one want?
Over the last couple of weeks, waiting for this phone to be available, I had some time to deliberate on my desire to junk a perfectly working and three-week-old phone to buy a new one.
I am not sure now. Here's why I might hold off on buying the Pixel:
- Most important of all, the Very Blue is gone. I tried everywhere to get my hands on this, and now its not available. A blue phone would have stood out and given me some bragging rights. White and black are so boring.
- Is this phone 2.5 times better than the OnePlus 3? Not really, I don't think. Sure, you have the latest Nougat and the best camera, or so Google claims. But is it worth it?
- They killed the Nexus because the Nexus was a value competitor to the premium Pixel. Pixel specs aren't very different from the Nexus. I have one eye on the regulators and wonder if they are taking a close look at Google's hardware moves. Probably too early, though. Nexus was the only phone to offer a pure Android experience. Now, Pixel will be the only one.
Having said all that, i might still walk into a store on the 24th and drop some serious cash on the Pixel. Why? I want to have a phone most people won't buy, and I love that early adopter tag.
I must come off as a form-over-function guy; guilty as charged. I love my phones for being beautifully crafted devices.
More power to Google. Pixel is just a series of first steps they are taking to control the hardware and software to give users a brilliant Android experience.
Hopefully, they won't abuse their customers' trust and loyalty by making the accessories and the complementary universe a pricey one.
Pixel will severely erode Samsung's perch at the top for premium Android handsets.Chandan Mohanty
As for its popularity in India, I would say that it will severely erode Samsung's perch at the top for premium Android handsets.
I have very few doubts. Google as a company has the same halo in the Indian customers' minds as Apple does.
I have used the Samsung Gear VR headset. Nice stuff, but not enough content.
But let's not quibble over that - like I said, I am a form guy.
Daydream has addressed some of these challenges with its superior components, but a lot more remain including the pricing.
I think that the VR hardware has to be more natural before it gets wider acceptance. Right now, there is no overwhelming reason for me to use the VR gear.
Give me a good reason first, like a Clash Royale on Daydream.
P.S. If you have a Very Blue Pixel, you know how to reach me!
Google's flagship products are welcomed with open arms here. I believe Pixel will do just fine, just as Nexus devices did in this market.
VR hardware adoption is definitely on a raise, and most people I'm aware of in the mobile app/game space owns at least a Google Cardboard.
Lenovo also did a decent job in pushing VR to its consumers via its Lenovo Vibe/K4+ series phone (where they offered VR headsets as complementary).
However I believe cost of owning a Google Daydream is quite high for an accessory (Rs. 5000/$74). I hope Google have some offers for India to target the mid-range mobile phone users.
India-specific VR content is also on the increase. Some examples:
- Lalbaug 360, a Cardboard app where you can witness the live feeds of Ganesha Chaturthi Festival as it happens in Mumbai.
- Indian Netflix equivalent Hotstar, one of our biggest video on demand apps, has recently entered the VR space with VR 360 live feeds for the Kabadi world cup.
I believe this content will definitely drive the VR hardware adoption.
If we evaluate the pricing strategy for Google Pixel, it is clear that Google is positioning the phone as a premium product and not for market penetration, unlike other Android smartphones.
Premium pricing works well for companies that can create a value perception in the minds of the customers and Google is definitely a brand that can create this perception through its marketing strategies and packaging it with features/specs that may not be available in other smartphones.
VR adoption directly ties to the quality and quantity of content that is available.Felix Manojh
Android users are usually not loyal to a brand and are open to adopt new brands when they decide to upgrade their smartphone.
So, the aspirational Android users would prefer to adopt Pixel, especially after the recent brand image beating taken by Samsung.
Similarly, some iPhone users might also look to adopt Pixel and experience its various features like customisation and support for VR (Daydream).
I do not expect Daydream View to significantly impact the level of VR adoption in India, but is a good start by reducing the price point for VR adoption.
The adoption directly ties to the quality and quantity of content that is available for VR and we are yet to see a super-hit game in VR like Pokemon GO has been for AR.
But I could be wrong - the adult entertainment industry may be the driving force for VR adoption too.