Despite the Pixel 4's reception, Google Pixel sales were surprisingly strong in 2019

Despite Pixel 4 reception, Google Pixel sales were surprisingly strong in 2019
The Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have so far proven to be massive sales disappointments. But that lack of success didn’t stop Google from reportedly shipping a record number of Pixel smartphones last year.

Google now sells more smartphones than OnePlus

Market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) has today revealed that Google shipped an impressive 7.2 million Pixel smartphones between January and December 2019. That number is up 52% year-on-year from the 4.7 million devices sold in 2018.

The latest figures, which represent the “best performance ever” for the lineup, are reportedly down to strong performance in the United States. Google pursued more carrier partnerships last year, something that helped open up the smartphones to a wider audience.

IDC also claims the Pixel series experienced growth in Japan, where the iPhone currently dominates, and Western Europe. Specific markets were not specified for the latter, but the UK was likely the key driving force.

As for sales by device, Google itself admitted that the flagship Pixel 3 series was less popular than its predecessor. That, combined with the poor Pixel 4 reception towards the end of 2019, suggests the mid-range Pixel 3a was likely the key growth driver last year.

Google now ships more smartphones annually than OnePlus, according to Francisco Jerome from IDC, but the company is still far from reaching the top 10. To even be close, it would need to be shipping over 20 million units annually.

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The internet giant has now officially surpassed Sony too, who sold 3.9 million Xperia smartphones in 2019 according to its quarterly financial reports.

How is Google Pixel performing this year?

As mentioned above, the flagship Pixel 4 has so far proved less popular than its predecessor. Sales in the first quarter were down year-on-year and the global pandemic has likely impacted demand too during the second quarter. Fortunately, the Pixel 3a provides an extra source of income for the company and should hopefully soften the blow. 

The second half of the year is extremely important for the company. Google is gearing up to launch the mid-range Pixel 4a without an XL model in summer and the Pixel 5 series in the fourth quarter. 

Whether sales this year are higher, lower, or equal than 2019 numbers will largely depend on the popularity of these devices. Ultimately, only time will tell, but the lack of a Pixel 4a XL model could negatively impact the company and the Pixel 5 series could prove even less popular due to some key changes being planned by Google. 

The Google Pixel 5 won't be a flagship series

Whereas the Pixel, Pixel 2, Pixel 3, and Pixel 4 lineups all launched as high-end devices designed to compete with the latest Android and iPhone models, this year Google is planning to include the mid-range Snapdragon 765 or 768 inside the Pixel 5 series in order to offer 5G connectivity at a lower price. 

The smartphones will likely compete directly with the flagship iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max in terms of pricing. The 5G Galaxy S20 and LG V60 ThinQ likely won't cost much more around the time of launch, putting the new Google devices at a potential performance disadvantage. 

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