Pixel Sales Have Fallen Off a Cliff

Posted on May 13, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Mobile with 0 Comments

A new report claims that Google sold only 2 million Pixel 4 handsets, leading to the departure of two key executives.

“Google shipped around 2 million units of the Pixel 4 in the first two quarters it was available, at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, according to IDC’s estimates, a drop from the 3.5 million Pixel 3 and nearly 3 million Pixel 3a models that shipped in the first two quarters of their availability,” a new report in The Information claims. “In the U.S., Google’s largest market, it had just 3 percent market share of the smartphone market last year, said IDC.”

The sales woes have led to two key Pixel executives leaving the company, camera expert Marc Levoy and general manager Mario Queiroz.

“The mastermind behind Google’s Pixel camera, Marc Levoy, who last year showed off his team’s photography advances during a Google event in New York City, left the company in March,” the report says. “The exit, which hasn’t been previously reported, follows the departure of Pixel general manager Mario Queiroz, the second top executive to leave the Pixel orbit in less than a year.”

This is bad news for Pixel fans. While Levoy did poo-poo the Pixel 4’s lack of an ultrawide camera lens at that event, his part of the presentation was the high-point and a great reminder of why Google’s computation photography prowess is so important. Levoy joined Google in 2014 specifically to work on Pixel cameras, so his departure is troubling.

Queiroz, meanwhile, had been at Google since 2005, and he helped launch the Nexus brand that predated Pixel.

What this means for the future is unclear. Pixels have never sold well, but each subsequent generation has sold even worse than its predecessors, and the only relatively good news during this time was the budget-priced Pixel 3a. Google is set to release the Pixel 4a soon, but that handset will only ship in the smaller, non-XL size for some reason. But the Information report suggests that the current troubles had been brewing for some time.

“At a hardware team all-hands meeting in the fall, ahead of the October launch in New York, [Google head of hardware Rick] Osterloh informed staff about his own misgivings,” the report notes. “He told them he did not agree with some of the decisions made about the phone, according to two people who were present at the meeting. In particular, he was disappointed in its battery power.” (I have to imagine he wasn’t excited by the hand-waving gesture nonsense either, or perhaps the lack of ultrawide camera capabilities.)

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