Multiple rumors erupted today that Google would be forced to cancel the Pixel 5a because of component shortages. But that’s not the case, Google says.
“Pixel 5a 5G is not canceled,” a Google spokesperson said. “It will be available later this year in the U.S. and Japan and announced in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced.”
The comment came after multiple blogs, citing leakers, reported that Google was forced to cancel the Pixel 5a because of component shortages. “Bad news,” leaker Jon Prosser tweeted. “’Barbet’ (Pixel 5A) has been canceled. I’m told it’s due to the chip shortage, and as of this morning, it’s not moving forward. Pixel 4A and 4A 5G will continue to be sold throughout 2021.”
This is interesting on a number of levels.
Rumors of Google canceling the Pixel 5a came in the wake of similar rumors about Apple delaying some iPads and iPhones this year because of component shortages. So one wonders if that wasn’t the real source of the Google “news”: After all, if even Apple is having trouble getting parts in 2021, surely a minor player like Google would face even bigger hurdles. It’s easy to fall for this kind of “it makes sense so it must be true” line of thinking.
What I’m more interested in, however, is that last bit in the Google spokesperson quote: The Pixel 5a “will be available later this year … in line with when last year’s a-series phone was introduced.”
If you think back to the first “a-series” Pixel, the Pixel 3a, that handset was announced at Google I/O 2019 in May 2019 and was released just a week later. Google originally planned to announce and release its follow-up on the same schedule a year later. But when Google I/O 2020 was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pixel 4a went dark. And it wasn’t announced or released until months later, in August 2020. A Pixel 4a 5G—which is sort of a Pixel 4a XL—was announced a month later.
So the Google quote statement today suggests that the Pixel 5a will be announced in August, and not in May, even though Google I/O is back this year. That might actually make some sense: The August timeframe puts the new phone on the same schedule as Android 12, so it could possibly ship with the new OS version instead of the one released late last summer. Still, I had expected a May announcement and release, in part so Google could follow it up with an Android 12-based Pixel 6 this fall.