Quick, what's the coolest productGoogle has ever unveiled? Oh, and software doesn't count.
Right, exactly — there isn't one. Google's software services are immensely popular and permeate our daily lives. It's hard to imagine the world before Gmail or Google Maps, but on hardware it's usually the same story: a swing and a miss.
Certainly there have been successes. TheChromecast streaming dongle is one of the best products in the category you can buy, and I'd still recommend it today. But for all its virtues as a cheap and efficient video streaming device, the Chromecast isn't something you love like you covet an iPhone 7 or an Amazon Echo. Heck, it's not even really a Kindle.
SEE ALSO: Google's big hardware event: What to expect
Look at the roster of Google hardware:Chromebook Pixel, Nexus Player , OnHub router , Pixel C ,Google Glass — even the products that aren't outright failures are either capable but lacking in some key way or priced too high to have any real impact. And none is a household name.
Even if you extend your query to the extensive lineup of Nexus phones and tablets over the years (so far all made by third-party manufacturers), there isn't a breakout. Some were notable releases and garneredgood reviews, but none has really advanced the Nexus brand to a point where it's comparable to the iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy or even second-tier players like HTC and Motorola.
The Google Nexus 5X, which debuted in 2015.
Image: Lili Sams/Mashable
This all may seem rude to point out on the eve of the company'sbig hardware event, but it's also instructive. It's not like Google's hardware was all terrible. Some of it, such as the excellentNexus 7 tablet, was arguably best-in-class. So what was the problem?
Something fundamental is amiss with Google's sales pitch as well as its product design philosophy.
Part of it is Google's refusal to openly acknowledge it's a hardware company, at least in part. There's good reason for this: With Android and Chrome OS, Google has depended on hardware partners to carry the platform torch. Even when Google makes a good or potentially superior competitor to what its partners are offering, the product is never backed up by comparable marketing or PR. Whereas Apple and Samsung tend to announce sales records and report units shipped in quarterly reports, Google does not.
But that's not the whole story. Something more fundamental is amiss with Google's sales pitch as well as its product design philosophy. Tuesday's event notwithstanding, Google hardware launches are rarely, if ever, epic keynote unveilings. Quite the contrary: The company typically prefers the efficiency of ablog post for new gadgets, occasionally seeding the announcement to a few news sites. If there is an event, it's usually a morecasual affair with virtually no theatrics to speak of.
In short, Google's product launches aren't the least bit cool. There's a lot of information and often genuine enthusiasm for the device, but there's very little in the way of stage-setting (telling potential buyers why they'd want this in the first place) and almost never any drama. Say what you will about Snapchat's Spectacles , but the way Evan Spiegel unveiled them to a select few before the announcement — literally unveiling them and saying "Boom!" when he did, according to the Wall Street Journal — garnered exactly the reaction he was looking for, that this was a big deal.