Alphabet, the parent company of Google just announced its earnings for the first quarter of 2019. While the company reported a revenue of $36.3 billion, investors weren’t impressed. They expected more. Yet, the company was recently hit with a $1.7 billion fine by the European Union. Growth also slowed down in advertising where it makes the bulk of its money. Its future bets like the self-driving cars of Waymo are still making losses. Then there’s it’s devices like the Pixel phones.
Sundar Pichai – CEO of Google stated that the company is strongly committed to its hardware business. The company expects the future of computing to soon evolve beyond phones. As such, it wants to be ready. But it’s finding that to be easier said than done. Ruth Porat – the CFO of Google and Alphabet stated that the company sold fewer Pixel phones when compared to this same time last year.
She blamed this on the intense competition in the high-end smartphone market. It’s Pixel phones have always held a strong reputation of having some of the greatest cameras on smartphones. Furthermore, when you consider the Pixel lineup has yet to add a single phone with dual-cameras, this feat becomes even more impressive. But manufacturing issues like those on the Pixel 2 have left a sour note on its reputation.
To its credit, Google has been working on these issues to provide solutions. Furthermore, alongside the camera, the Pixel offers other great features. The most important one is arguably getting Android updates free of any bloatware directly from Google without any delays. Nonetheless, that doesn’t change the fact that Google has had a hard time selling these phones.
As such, it’s not too surprising that Google might be aiming to return to the midrange smartphone market. Earlier this month, Google’s own website leaked the details of the Pixel 3a. Alongside it is expected to be a larger Pixel 3a XL. Both phones are expected to be cheaper mid-range smartphones. As such, it’s likely while they may offer the same camera performance found on the Pixel 3, there will be compromises elsewhere like processing power and build quality.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Google has ventured into the mid-range smartphone market. Long before it was known for its high-end Pixel lineup, there was the Nexus lineup. Before the Nexus lineup ventured into the high-end market, it was known for some of the greatest mid-range smartphones in the market.
The greatest example would be the Nexus 5, which is considered by some to be the original flagship killer. It offered a great camera, amazing performance, decent battery life, and an Android devoid of any clutter. All of this at an affordable price. Sadly, Google left this market. The likes of OnePlus and Xiaomi have continued the legacy of the “flagship killer” with phones like the original OnePlus One and the Pocophone F1.
But while OnePlus too went on the path of producing high-end phones, Xiaomi remains invested in the mid-range market. So too are players like Samsung and Huawei, releasing countless mid-range phones throughout the year. Yet, that’s not to say Google can’t make its mark here. They already know what it takes to build a great mid-range phone. The Nexus 5 is proof of that. So if they could work on their manufacturing issues, we might see the return of the “flagship killer” phones at this year’s Google I/O.