Google Pixel Division GM and Camera Mastermind Leave Company as Sales Disappoint

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Google’s Pixel division has lost some key team members, as its Pixel 4 phone sales continue to disappoint.

These key members include Mario Queiroz, general manager, and Marc Levoy, the scientist and engineer behind Pixels’ camera. The Information reports that Mario is the second top executive to leave Pixel in less than a year. Marc had left the company in March.

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The Information attributes this company shakeup to disappointing sales and lackluster reviews for recent Google Pixel phones. Despite the applauds from the fanbase, Pixel 4 has not sold well in the face of competition from the like of Samsung and Apple, and this has gotten the management looking at cost-cutting as they face a slowdown in ad revenue because of the on-going pandemic.

Although Google’s ‘value’ Pixel 3a series got good reviews, it also has not sold well, and is regularly available at discounted prices. Google would be looking to repeat the formula with Pixel 4a, which will feature the company’s well-reviewed camera software. The company will be aiming to launch it for $399, the same price that iPhone SE sells for. However, Pixel 4a will be powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 730 processor.

Although Google’s Pixel has changed user expectations from smartphone camera photography, the increase in sales price ever since Pixel 3 was launched  had not been warmly received by customers. The same trend continued with Pixel 4, at a time when Apple launched the iPhone 11 for a lower price, and a camera with better night-mode and competitive HDR features.

Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware chief, is aware of the issues with Pixel smartphones, including disappointing battery power, and he made it a point to let his staff know before the launch of Pixel 4a in October 2019. Rick, a former Motorola president, was hired in 2016, to take the Pixel smartphone mainstream, however, as of 2020, this plan has not come to fruition.

Pixel 4’s shortcomings are obvious. It had a disappointing battery, useless and gimmicky motion controls, and a price too high to justify its features. Its face authentication did not even work well at launch. This, and numerous other issues, had a major impact on Pixel 4’s sales and it just only 2 million units in first 6 months of launch. Meanwhile, Pixel 3 sold 3.5 million, and Pixel 3a sold 3 million, in their first 6 months. These numbers are nothing to boast about either, but they put into perspective Pixel 4’s failure.

Google’s Pixel division now has another shot at redemption with Pixel 4a, its new value smartphone, which might launch in June. However, the on-going pandemic, and competition at the $399 price range, might make it challenging to generate sales.

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