Pixel Smartphone Sales Disaster Revealed

Posted on October 9, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android with 48 Comments

Data by IDC. Graphic by Bloomberg

This past week, Google claimed that the Pixel 6 series was its “fastest-selling” smartphone lineup ever. Maybe. But it’s not Google’s best-selling smartphone lineup ever. In fact, every generation of Pixel save the Pixel 5 and the original generation outsold the Pixel 6 family. Worse, Pixel sales have always been so low they don’t even register in the marketshare numbers we examine regularly.

This new data comes via IDC, which curiously chose to provide it only to Bloomberg, which published it via its paid-only website.

“Since Google launched Pixel phones in 2016, it’s sold 27.6 million units (combined over all six generations),” Bloomberg’s Vlad Savov tweeted of the data. “That’s [just] 1/10 of Samsung’s 2021 sales. In other words, Google would need 60 years to sell as many phones as Samsung sells in one [year].”

According to IDC’s data, Google sold well under 5 million Pixel 6, 6 Pro, and 6a handsets between October 2021 and September 2022, and almost 90 percent of those sales came during the first 6 months of device availability.

Worse, Google has repeatedly touted how that generation of handsets outsold its predecessors, but that’s only true of the Pixel 5 generation, which sold about 2 million units overall and was the worst-performing generation of Pixel by far. By comparison, the Pixel 3 series sold about 9 million units, making it the best-selling Pixel family ever. Pixel 4 sold about 5.5 million units, with Pixel 2 (~4 million), Pixel 6 (under 5 million), OG Pixel (~3.3 million), and Pixel 5 (2 million) bringing up the rear.

Speaking of the rear, these numbers are so small—collectively or individually—that Pixel has never represented a serious threat to the Samsung and Apple market leaders. In 2021, for example, hardware makers sold 1.39 billion smartphones, with Samsung selling 272.15 million units and Apple selling 237.45 million units.

But to really put this in perspective, consider that hardware makers, most Nokia, shipped a record 34.9 million Windows phones in 2014 into a smaller overall market. And Microsoft killed off that product line one year later. Google hasn’t sold that many Pixel smartphones, combined, in its 6 years in the market.

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