Google Sold Just 7.2 Million Pixel Handsets in 2019

Posted on June 9, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Mobile with 22 Comments

While Pixel sales fell off a cliff in late 2019 because of the Pixel 4, the low-cost Pixel 3a helped saved the day, according to IDC. Well, within reason, that is.

“Google continues to expand the Pixel portfolio and sales are growing,” IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo tweeted. “In 2019, shipments grew 52 percent [year-over-year] to reach the [lineup’s] highest volume ever, with strong performances in the USA, Western Europe, and Japan. It now ships more units than OnePlus, but it is still far from reaching [the top 10].”

In May, we learned that the Pixel 4 family, which was released late in the year, sold horribly, and less than the Pixel 3 family from a year earlier. How horribly? Just 2 million units in its first six months of availability.

According to IDC, however, Google sold 7.2 million Pixel handsets in 2019 overall. So 5.2 million of them were non-Pixel 4s. Most of which were almost certainly the Pixel 3a.

7.2 million in annual sales is not a big number compared to the market leaders. In just the first quarter, for example, IDC reported that Samsung sold 72 million handsets, while Huawei sold 59 million and Apple sold 36.4 million. Even companies like Vivo and Oppo, which most Americans have likely never heard of, sold over 20 million smartphones in that one quarter alone.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Google Sold Just 7.2 Million Pixel Handsets in 2019”

  1. madthinus

    Still potentially more than a $2.8billion dollar business at $400 a phone. However, one can almost call this R&D for Android. They could not just write the software without at least building and maintaining some phones. So in the greater R&D of Android and derived income, they have no choice to be in this business for now.

  2. wosully

    I hope this improves: it's a great phone.

  3. jm2016

    It feels like Google has only been playing in the phone business with the Pixel line up. It would really get interesting if they decided to commit, coming out with good, better, best models where best goes head to head with Samsung and Apple flag ships, while better hits the mainstream and good is both a good tool for developers and a good entry level, inexpensive phone.

    They clearly have the resources but don't seem to want to be in the handset business - more like a hobby.

  4. ghostrider

    Some of these articles are so negative it's unreal. Google sold more handsets than ever before, yet this site just compares them to the market leaders. Google aren't market leaders in handset sales, and probably never will be, but 50 percent year on year growth is something to smile about - not many others can say that. I think Google have realized that it's not worth fighting at the premium end - it's a two horse race, so move down to the mid-range and that's a big market waiting to be tapped.

    Loving my Pixel 3a, and would happily get a 4a (when it appears). Google have found their calling by the looks of it -Nexus reborn.. I'm going to get Android 11 (and 12) and monthly updates like clockwork. You can't ask for more than that..

    • Paul Thurrott

      When you sell next to nothing, selling more year-over-year is a really low bar. The issue here, really, is that Google can't sell flagships. The (very relative) success of the Pixel 3a line explains why the rumors about the Pixel 5 being a lower-cost device makes sense. Pixel is a disaster. Stating so isn't negative. It's just honest. But I also love Pixel. I buy every version, and I write about the products a lot for a reason.
      • Pungkuss

        I agree that its a low number, but the year-over-year increase is a good thing. It tells Google where their opportunity is (mid-range), shows them that India, US and Brazil are good markets for them and there is an opportunity to have a great business. I am not sure I want Google to outsell Samsung the way I don't want Microsoft to outsell Lenovo.
        Windows phone would have killed for those year-over-year increases, and if it had those we would all point out the positive. I don't know why we think just because you own the platform its easy to compete with the folks on your platform who are fighting for their existence. I think a jump like that in year 4 is a good thing. Hopefully we see a similar increase in year 5.
        In reply to paul-thurrott:

  5. beckerrt

    So funny how easy it is to play with numbers. One can make the 7.2 million units sold figure look great or terrible depending on what context is used. I honestly still don't see the point of Pixel. Clearly, their camera smarts have done nothing to lure away "normal" consumers from Samsung or Apple.

  6. vim fuego

    In other news, Google sold more handsets in one year than Microsoft ever managed to sell.

    Regardless I'm really pleased with my pixel. The camera is the best on the market, bar none, destroying everything by a large margin, making iPhones look ameuterish.

    I hate all the vendor clutter that Samsung, Huawei, sony and all the other add. Not interested in a phone that's got clutter, I do t want 2 differrnt gallery apsp, two different message apps, Samsung silently adding new stuff on my phone without my approval (yep they do this all the time).

    A pixel doesn't need the huge amounts of ram that the other phones have, as pixels aren't full of alll the clutter. The pixel visual core really does add value (which I why I personally don't buy A the budget pixel offerings)

  7. tghallin

    The Pixel 3a was the first midrange phone to offer a premium phone camera experience. After social media, texting and e-mail, which every phone handles well, comes the camera. The midrange Motorola phones and others all had mediocre cameras. So when the Pixel 3aXL offered Pixel 3XL quality photos at half the price, I jumped on it. I imagine there were lots of people that made the same decision.

  8. rmlounsbury

    Google really should drop their consumer ambitions and just go back to the old Nexus concept. I'd imagine if you made Nexus style phones the sales probably won't change much since you are already probably mostly seeing enthusiasts and developers as your main buyers today anyway.

    Having a Nexus device lets Google feature different hardware manufacturers each year and lets them put the focus on new features and functionality in tandem with the newest Android release. Following the same formula it would be a device that has premium internals but trades off some of the fit and finish to keep the price down overall.

    The Nexus 4 was still one of my favorite Android phones ever. Also the Nexus 7 tablet was the only actually good Android tablet as well.

  9. brettscoast

    Interesting stats there the sales figures for the Pixel 4 is surprisingly bad.

  10. dftf

    As much as I like my Pixel 3a, I did pick it up during the Black Friday offer period for close-to £100 off. I'm not sure I'd still have bought one at the usual price of £299 ($381; £249/$317 before VAT).

    The Samsung Galaxy A40 is just a little smaller, but same as the Pixel 3a has: same battery-capacity; OLED screen, 4GB RAM, octa-core processor (though the Exynos will be weaker than the Snapdragon in the Pixel), NFC, headphone-socket and 64GB of internal storage (but unlike in the Pixel line, you can expand this via a microSD). And that phone is currently £219 ($280; £183/$234 before VAT).

    The Pixel 3a remains a decent-phone, sure, but given the Google Camera app has been ported to other phones, so you can get a similar Night Sight experience, it is hard to recommend. Especially if you're happy to stray into the Chinese own-brands, where you'll get even-higher specs.

  11. hellcatm

    7.2 million is low but they have to be in the business. No other handset maker is updating the phone like the Pixels. Other phones you have to wait months if you even get the next Version of Android plus some handset makers don't even get all the security updates. Until Google can figure this out, they have to have their toe in the handset business.

    I think companies like Samsung, LG and such should make a couple phones that are vanilla Android and get all updates, but that's just me. I had a Samsung phone and if Google stopped making phones I'd have to go with another maker, probably One Plus, maybe LG, but I wouldn't be as happy because the next version of Android would come out and I'd be upset I didn't get it.

    Most regular people probably don't notice or care, but I do for security and for more features, maybe streamlining the look and feel from the previous version and maybe better optimization and battery.

    • wright_is

      In reply to HellcatM:

      As others have said Android One handsets get updated relatively quickly.

      I've been surprised with my last 3 phone (Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Hauwei P20 and Samsung Galaxy S20+), the Huaweis got their security updates for 2 years with a 1 month delay behind the official Google updates. The upgrade from 8 to 9 was slower (and 10 never arrived), but they still got the security updates on time.

      The Galaxy S20+ is getting the security updates with a 2 - 3 day delay (i.e. the Patch level June 1 2020 arrived on June 3. If they can keep this level of support for the 3 years of the guarantee, I'll be be more than happy.

    • dftf

      In reply to HellcatM:

      If you're concerned about buying a phone and it never getting any updates just look for ones that are in the "Android One" program.

      In the UK the cheapest is the Nokia 2.3 at £99.95 (approx $127.25, or £83.29 before VAT -- approx $106.05) so you don't need to spend a fortune for one either.

      A quick Google search for "list of Android One phones" will find you some articles, plus Wikipedia has an article called "Android One" and that lists phones released in the program by year of release.

      With Android One you get three years of security updates from the date the phone was first launched onto the market, and during the first two of those years you get guaranteed OS updates too.

  12. crunchyfrog

    I've heard it said, and I have no reason to disagree, that Google intensionally sandbags the Pixel and in larger part the making of Smartphones because they don't want to piss off phone makers around the world to the point that they will move away from Android OS. A system that does make them money and provides tremendous influence in mobile.

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