Looking at the reports we have over the past one year in terms of Google’s Pixel smartphone sales, it gets really hard to tell what Google intends to do with the Pixel brand.
The Google Pixel
Google first announced the Pixel and the Pixel XL last year on 4 October. Not looking to create any delays between markets, Google launched the Pixel lineup in India on 25 October, with pre-orders starting the same month on 13 October. The devices were priced extremely high, for a product coming from Google.
In India, Google priced the 32 GB Google Pixel at Rs 57,000, while the larger Pixel XL started from Rs 66,000. Clearly, Google had skipped on Samsung and stepped into Apple territory in terms of pricing, something that Nexus users were not too happy about.
It was clear on launch date itself that the Pixel and the Pixel XL were overpriced, given their underlying hardware specifications. But what every Pixel buyer was able to see was a smartphone that came from Google, got the latest updates on time, and clicked really good photos. This indeed, was reason enough for most Pixel buyers to jump ship from a smartphone that was made by Samsung, LG, HTC and the lot to a Pixel. More so, it was the first premium offering from Google, and the only choice for Nexus fans, as there wasn’t really much of a choice.
The Google Pixel XL
While sales, rose taking up a 10 percent chunk of the premium smartphone market share from Samsung (which fell to 23 percent) Apple remained unshaken and enjoyed a 66 percent share back in November 2016 as per a report by the Economic Times. Google was happy with what it had achieved, but that jump in number was just the initial phase. Back then Morgan Stanley too wrote down as to how Google could generate a whopping $3.8 billion in the coming year.
The future looked bright, but it clearly, was too early to jump to conclusions.
By the end of January 2017, sales of the Pixel had dropped. The handsets were still selling, but sales were sluggish and not as good as the first month. Apple and Samsung had picked up pace and left Google far behind according to this report by the Economic Times. Back then the reason for the drop in interest was the price which was hard to digest even for those who wanted that pure Android experience. As per our report, the drop in sales was not just in India, but even abroad and it reiterated the fact that the idea of Google and hardware never really managed to take off.
Why Google is not worried
As opposed to what most of us had initially expected, Google’s Pixel brand is not really a slap on the faces of manufacturers who had been supporting Android for almost a decade. This is clear, from the fact that the Pixel brand, neither made a big enough dent on the sales of its own ecosystem (Android) nor on others (Apple).
From the way I see it Google’s Pixel is about telling the world that Android is a darn good operating system if done right.
The Google Pixel 2 XL in white. Image:
Google pulling of the Pixel brand was indeed all about this. It came at a time when every single manufacturer had taken customisations to extreme levels, killing the image of Android as an OS one can rely on.
Android smartphones even today come with delayed software updates thanks to the level of fragmentation involved. While security patches find their way to non-Pixel devices (eventually) they are still far behind with what has been happening with Apple’s iOS platform where all devices get security patches and software updates, simultaneously.
And this is what Google’s Pixel is really all about. It is not here to break boundaries or change the game. It’s here to simply tell fans and new consumers, that Android can be a really good choice for a mobile OS if done right.
So what better way to show off what Android is all about, than a brand that comes from Google itself? Google isn’t bothered about sales, it never was with the Nexus program and it never will be with the Pixel either.