The unexpected side effect of Google’s Pixel 4 phone

The unexpected side effect of Google’s Pixel 4 phone

Look, I get what you’re probably thinking right now. I’m normally the guy who calls shenanigans when some over-the-top article claims an unreleased product is somehow “changing everything” in a suspiciously vague way.

Such grandiose claims deserve to be scrutinized and, in most cases, brushed off as sensational silliness. This, however, is not one of those situations.

We’ve talked plenty about the radar technology in Google’s upcoming Pixel 4 phone and how it could, at least in theory, be a significant point of differentiation not only for the Pixel 4 but for much of Google’s self-made hardware lineup. And all of that is true, at least on a theoretical level (for now). Today, though, I wanted to explore another side of the Pixel 4’s pending arrival — one that’s less about the device itself and more about the way Google’s presenting it.

In past years, y’see, Google has suffered from an increasingly common fate in our modern-day mobile tech universe — a little somethin’ I like to call smartphone thunder theft (a catchy phrase if I’ve ever heard one; dibs on using that as a future band name). You know what I’m talking about, right? The way it’s damn near impossible for a device-maker these days to keep much of anything under wraps and hang onto any significant surprises for its grand reveal of a high-profile product.

Leaks are everywhere, and given the nature of phone hardware and the large number of parties invariably involved with the process, plugging up those leaks is easier said than done. And yet, almost all the major smartphone manufacturers cling onto the tired old playbook of holding a splashy press conference at which some casually dressed executive goes through the motions of “unveiling” a shiny new device. By design, they have to act like they’re showing us something we haven’t seen a thousand times already, probably in high-resolution detail.

It feels almost painfully contrived — like the folks on stage clearly know no significant surprises are involved but are forced to play the role, anyway, and go through the motions of the New Cellular Telephone Event (because it’s not just a press conference, damn it, it’s an event — and probably a special event, at that). It’s a trope introduced by Apple during the Steve Jobs era of showmanship and emulated by pretty much everyone still today.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


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