Google and Samsung have smartphones many critics say are as good or better than the latest iPhones.
But making a device to rival Apple’s isn’t the hard part. Getting iPhone users to switch is.
Google acknowledges this in a series of video ads launched this week to convince brand loyalists to switch to its newest and well-reviewed flagship, the Pixel 3.
Pixel 3 ads: the ‘unswitchables’
Google took more time than the usual minute-spot to make its case for the Pixel 3. It released three videos more than six minutes long, a kind of mini-series, hosted by comedian James Davis. Each episode revolves around a creative person who has stuck to their brands for years.
Davis cajoles his “unswitchable” subjects – an aerospace engineer, a fashion blogger, and a chef – to give the Pixel 3 a try. You know you’re in for a conversion story but Davis delivers on the humor to keep the viewer from bailing.
His performance is convincing. Still, the message is not likely to send Pixel 3 sales through the roof.
Apple’s competitors seem forced to market from a defensive position. Consider Samsung. Instead of highlighting the specs of its Galaxy phones, many of Samsung’s ads point out features the iPhone lacks or pokes fun of users for standing in long lines, putting up with the notch and dealing with seemingly detached Apple Store workers whose only interest is to get you to upgrade.
Google’s approach in its YouTube blitz is meant to put the Pixel 3’s great features front-and-center and takes a friendly approach to convince people to make the switch.
The spots don’t even mention Apple or Samsung, the two brands the Pixel lags behind in U.S. sales. Nearly 75 percent of all smartphone users in the U.S. have either Apple or Samsung handsets, according to the website, Statista
A devoted brand community
If anything, a switch to the Pixel 3 would mean less emotional turmoil for the Galaxy user than it would an iPhone fan.
More people in the U.S. are on the Android operating system (54.5 percent) across multiple brands. Another 44.3 percent are on the iPhone, hands-down the most profitable of the smartphone companies.
Apple has carefully cultivated its brand community, perfected its flavor of Kool-Aid, with ad campaigns that feel deeply personal. The ads present a lifestyle in which the customer sees themselves.
For that slice of life, they will stand in long lines at Apple Stores on product launch days for products often more expensive than the perfectly good phones of the competition.
“People who buy exclusively Apple all the time are unsettling,” David Stewart of Australia wrote on Quora in 2014. “A sense of loyalty to a multinational, profit-driven company is just weird in my book, especially when it manifests itself in utter loyalty, a refusal to accept any alternative, an unnatural love for the product and an inability to accept that there are any flaws in the love they feel.”
Tech news site Patently Apple used some numbers to quantify what Apple’s competitors are up against.
Google’s Pixel 2 sold 3.9 units in the fourth quarter of 2017, less than Apple sold per week for the same time frame, the website reported.
Patiently Apple also noted that Google attracted 61,000 views for all three videos in its first three days. Apple’s Group Face Time add hit YouTube Thursday and had more than 100,000 views in the first seven hours.