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With the Pixel 4 nearing release, Google just confirmed it can’t sell expensive phones

Published Jul 26th, 2019 7:31AM EDT
Pixel 4 Price
Image: Google

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We’ve seen it over and over with the Pixel series: Google can’t sell the flagship, at least not at that price. The original Pixel suffered from severe stock shortages. The Pixel 2 didn’t, but it still didn’t do as well in stores as expected. A year later, the Pixel 3 dropped a flagship phone that Google and its partners frequently discount. When the Pixel 4 launches this fall, it’s likely the handset will have a higher price tag that will keep it in line with the iPhone 11, Galaxy Note 10, and other 2019 flagships. No matter how exciting the Pixel 4 might be, Google just confirmed again to the world that it’s not successful at selling expensive smartphones as its main rivals.

Google on Thursday posted earnings for the second quarter, revealing healthy numbers for the period — $38.9 billion in revenue and $9.9 in profit. The ad business made most of that money, at $32.6 billion for the period, up 20% compared to the same period last year.

Google doesn’t share Pixel sales numbers, but the “Other Revenues” segment of its earnings report registered nearly $6.2 billion in revenue, up significantly from the $4.42 billion a year earlier.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the cheaper Pixel 3a phone released in May saw great sales during the period, implying the affordable handset might be responsible for the significant boost in sales for the segment.

“With the launch of Pixel 3a in May, overall Pixel unit sales in Q2 grew more than two times year over year,” the exec said per The Verge.

However, the exec did not mention actual sales numbers for the Pixel series, or whether the nearly 40% increase in “Other Revenues” happened because of the Pixel 3a. What’s interesting is that the Pixel 3a was available for sale for less than two months during the period. If sales were indeed that spectacular, it could further boost Google’s phone sales in the coming quarter.

This brings us back to the Pixel 4 series that launches in mid-October, a phone that will feature a slew of exciting new features, including a brand new camera system, 3D face recognition, radar-based gestures support, and a significant redesign. But will Android fans finally want to buy an expensive Pixel this fall? Or will they rather go for the Pixel 3a, or wait for the less exciting Pixel 4a to debut next May? That is if Google will continue to release cheaper Pixels every year now that the Pixel 3a series is a success.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.