After taking over Motorola, Google is planning to use its new arm of expertise by offering a smart-phone in 2013, so far dubbed by media as X-phone. This would be a direct competitor to Apple’s iphone, offering better technical features and amenities than iphones.
No matter how technically superior it might sound like, I have strong doubt about Google’s success of this head-on attack strategy to counter Apple’s smart-phones. Two fundamental issues of branding are of concern here. First, one-to-one matching of technical features might backfire once Apple or Samsung comes up with better phones than they currently have in their inventory. For the sake of debate, if we accept that technical superiority of X-phone would beat iphone, who told you that iphone is sitting idle by now and would not come up with better features by the time X-phone is in the market? What about Samsung? Do you think they are sleeping only to wake up and see X-phone making them bite the dust?
Second, even though technical features are important, it is not always the technical superiority that gives the winning edge in branding to increase mind and market share. Apple is already an image leader in this segment, if not the market leader by volume. Beating Apple on “image department” by Motorola and Google is a questionable strategy. Consumers often have perceptions about brands which are difficult to break by technical attacks only. It requires huge and consistent investment in image building activities. After sale of Motorola to Google, added up with already much tarnished image of Motorola, coupled with Google’s previous hardware market failure of Chromebook, I humbly doubt how far X-phone can push the image contrary to Apple or Samsung.