Google Pixel 6: iPhone 13 & Galaxy S21 killer - dead on arrival?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google Pixel 6: iPhone 13 & Galaxy S21 killer - dead on arrival?
It’s the same story over and over again… The comment sections on social media are full of enthusiastic fans who swear they’ll switch to the Pixel 6 if it has this and that feature... That's not a new phenomenon. It happens every year. However, in 2021, the promises from Google to the fans and vice versa are going stronger than ever.

Why? Well, the Google Pixel 5 left a lot to be desired when it came to power and camera versatility. The Google flagships that came out prior to that - the Pixel 4 and Pixel 3 series were arguably even worse. The Pixel 4 had lackluster battery life and a forehead for days. Of course, the only worse-looking top bezel was found on another Google phone - the previous flagship, Pixel 3 XL. How can we forget the boombox notch - it’s simply unforgettable.

So, in a way, we can't even blame people for not making the switch... Thankfully, it looks like Google is done trying our patience. The Google Pixel 6 & Google Pixel 6 Pro/XL design is finally up there with other modern-looking phones like the Galaxy S21. Moreover, the back of the phone is back to having more attitude and personality, after Google is said to kill the tired camera island. The new design says: ”I’m here… Look at me!”

On top of all, Google is:

Google Pixel 6 & Google Pixel 6 Pro/XL: Bye, buy

So, then why? Why would the Google Pixel 6 be doomed to flop, even if it’s as good as, or better than the upcoming iPhone 13 and Galaxy S21 FE? The answer is history... sales history. 

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As mentioned at the beginning of the story, Google’s flagship phones have historically failed to deliver when it comes to sales. Despite the hype, excitement, and marketing surrounding every Pixel launch, Google never managed to break into the top 10 best-selling smartphones list in the US or globally.

Although data on smartphone sales is generally scarce, it shows that Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi dominate the global market in recent years. Google also hasn’t managed to gain any significant market share on the international stage or even the US.

Google Pixel 6 & Google Pixel 6 Pro/XL availability: Out of stock… Android

Even if someone really wants to buy a Pixel smartphone, there’s one crucial thing that can get in the way, and that’s if this phone simply isn’t available to purchase.

  • Google Pixel 2 series - available in 9 markets
  • Google Pixel 3 series - available in 13 markets
  • Google Pixel 4 series - available in 9 markets
  • Google Pixel 5 series - available in 9 markets
  • Google Pixel 6 series - available in… ???

As you can see, history isn’t on Google’s side. But that’s because Google doesn’t really seem to care. Before diving into a short case study analysis, let me tell you that even when Google phones launch in certain markets, they often suddenly go out of stock. The mostrecent example is Google’s mostrecent phone - the Pixel 5. It went out of stock in the US. The US! Google’s core market...

Moving forward to the more concrete bit, that’s what Google had to say about the Pixel’s availability via an official blog post back in August 2020, when the Pixel 4A came out:

Keywords: India, variety of factors, local market trends, product features, committed.

To break it down: Google says the Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5 didn’t come to India and Singapore because they support 5G, as well as due to “local market trends” - presumably referring to low demand.

Two problems with this statement:

  1. There’s no reason a 5G Pixel phone can’t launch in India (or Singapore).
  2. There’s actually quite a lot of interest, talk, and hype around Google smartphones in a market like India.

Google Pixel & India: Google Playing hard-to-get

“Shortest case study ever” time:

India is the world’s second-largest smartphone market. However, if you put things in perspective, unfortunately, less than 1/3 of India’s population has access to a smartphone. They aren’t “going off the grid”. It all boils down to socio-economic factors.

This means the demand for budget or mid-range devices will be significantly higher. Of course, there are Indians who’d buy a Pixel 6, but there won’t be nearly as many people as the ones who’d buy a Pixel 4A (5G) or 5A (5G) - rumored to launch soon.

While there was a good reason the Pixel 4 didn’t make it to India (project Soli), the Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5 series didn’t face any of those constraining factors, because... they don't have any of those Project Soli sensors. Yet none of them made it to India or a dozen other countries around the world.

Manufacturers often price their devices accordingly when they launch into markets like India or Asia, in general. Pricing has to be socio-economically conscious. Hence the Google Pixel 4A (5G) would have been the perfect opportunity for Google to break into India’s smartphone market with a 5G phone.

But how do we know people care?

This is a Google Trends chart showing search interest for the Google Pixel 6 compared to the long-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.

Shocking? Yes - Samsung is the number two smartphone brand in India, second only to Xiaomi. Also, no. It appears as thought Indian people get genuinely excited about Pixel devices.

Come on, Google… Just Google it!

To sum it all up…

Google remains “committed” to bringing the Pixel lineup to more countries, but it doesn’t seem like the company has done much to prove this in the past four years. In fact, availability has become more limited since the launch of the Pixel 4 due to its special sensors, which weren’t allowed in some countries. Also, sales have never been Google’s strong side.

As we’ve said, many times - Google’s Nexus and Pixel devices have always acted as a carrier for Google’s software. Hardware, sales, and other “jibble-jabble” has never bothered Google too much.

Well, the Pixel 6 could be Google’s last shot to get it right. Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo, and Honor aren’t going to wait around. So, come on, Google! We challenge you to do at least 20 countries this time around! Just to see what happens…

Also - please, price the phones sensibly. Android flagships don’t seem to sell very well anyway.

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