Google sold fewer Pixel phones in Q1 2019 as compared to the first quarter last year, Ruth Porat who is the chief financial officer of Google parent company Alphabet said on an earnings call with reporters. And why did Google sell fewer Pixel phones (more specifically, the Pixel 3) during the last quarter - because pressure was way too high. Although Google did not specify the kind of pressure involved here, it could well be two things – increasing competition from Apple and Samsung in the premium, high-end price segment, as well as increasing prices that may possibly be driving potential buyers from investing into newer phones each year.
And it does not help that Google does not have a comprehensive smartphone portfolio – that could help. Also, that’s possibly why Google is gearing to launch the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL mid-range phones, come May 7 at Google I/O 2019.
Google does not usually break out revenue for its hardware product portfolio that ranges from Pixel phones to Chromecast streaming dongles – the segment is growing though (hitting nearly $5.5 billion in revenue during Q1 2019) which invariably means more people are buying Google hardware like the Chromecast and Google Home speakers, and very few people are buying the Pixel phones.
The Pixel 3 has received rave reviews for its class-leading cameras and stock Android user experience – but Samsung’s Galaxy S10 or Apple’s iPhone XS offer a complete package including better design, better display and better battery life. Not to mention, their cameras aren’t too bad either.
Three years down the line, Google’s Pixel phones still look like unfinished prototypes at a time when smartphones are fast becoming luxury devices – their growing prices also have a lot to do with it. Turns out, buyers would rather have it all when the asking price is so high, than stay for just outstanding cameras. Google’s earning call is a stark reminder of this – but CEO Sundar Pichai has reiterated that the company is in this for the long term which means the Pixel isn’t going anywhere for now.
The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL should help its cause though. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are supposed to a be mid-cycle refresh of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL – their main USP is said to be the fact that the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL will be mid-range phones designed to be much more affordable than the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Bringing high-end cameras and stock Android experience to the masses.