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24 May 2021
Google’s phones have an advertising problem
Mobile devicesTV & Connected TV planning & buying
While we probably all can recall seeing an ad that launched a new Samsung smartphone, or the latest iteration of an iPhone, how many can honestly say they remember one for a Google Pixel phone? Quite simply, and ironically for one of the globe’s biggest advertising businesses, it’s because Google doesn’t advertise its phones very well, WIRED reports.
In the US, with a market share of slightly more than 2%, Google’s phones have a lower market share than both LG – which recently decided to end its smartphone business – and Huawei, which hasn’t sold phones in the country for more than a year. Meanwhile, Samsung has 25% of the market, alongside Apple’s 54%.
According to Nielsen, since 2016 when Pixel phones launched in the UK, Google has spent just over £40 million on smartphone advertising. In comparison, Samsung and Apple invested four and five times as much.
Google bought a mere £14 million worth of TV ads, compared to Apple’s £75 million; and both were dwarfed by Samsung’s £124 million.
Some believe that as Google’s main business is cloud, software and AI, hardware will always be the poor relation, especially as developing the smartphone business means competing directly at scale with other brands using the Android operating system.
Others see Google as waiting to control everything about the phone production process and speculate the release of the Pixel 6 this later this year – which, it’s rumoured, will be powered by a new Google-invented chip – could be the time Google starts to market its Pixel phone for the first time in earnest.
“Investing in hardware is expensive. But it is also lucrative once you gain scale. I see Google trying to figure out the right timing for its investments and try to be truly vertically integrated, like Apple, to reap the benefits and go [full] throttle” – Neil Shah, Vice President of Research with global analysts Counterpoint