According to a report out of The Information, there was a huge shakeup in the Google Pixel division earlier this year. Following the dismal sales of the Pixel 4.
The report notes that the head of Google's hardware division (known as "Made By Google"), Rick Osterloh, had some rare criticism for his team following the launch of the Pixel 4 last fall. It's criticism that was needed too. Osterloh was reportedly unhappy that the team "wasted" the Soli chip on the Pixel 4 for facial recognition. And the other point was the terrible battery life on the Pixel 4.
Two things that reviewers and customers complained about pretty heavily. Particularly on the smaller Pixel 4.
Two Googlers with pivotal roles in the Pixel program left the company earlier this year
We sort of knew about these two departures already, but they did sort of fly under the radar. But Mario Queiroz who managed the Pixel program at Google left earlier this year. As well as Marc Levoy, who was in charge of the Pixel's camera. They left separately, with no real leave dates being made public here.
You may not know Queiroz that well, but Levoy you definitely should remember. He was the member of the team that did the entire camera portion of the announcement last year. And had a really bad hot take, saying that ultra-wide cameras weren't important. Meanwhile everyone on the face of the earth begged Google to add an ultra-wide camera instead of the telephoto it did add.
Pixel 4 sales were half as much as Pixel 3 sales, six months in
The report also notes that the Pixel 4 only sold about two million units. That's half as many devices as the Pixel 3 sold, in the same amount of time. Even with the huge bath tub notch on the Pixel 3 XL scaring some people away.
What's even more interesting about this number, is that the Pixel 4 was available at all four US carriers. While the Pixel 3 series was only available at Verizon (until the Pixel 3a launched last May). So more places to buy it, and half as many people bought it.
The biggest reason for many people opting not to buy the Pixel 4 was the battery life. Especially the smaller Pixel 4, as it had a pretty tiny battery inside. The other major factor was the huge forehead, which was not asymmetrical to the chin on the Pixel 4. Making it look pretty odd.
Hopefully Google has learned its lesson and will do better in the future. But don't expect the Pixel 5 to have fixed these issues. As it was likely already in production before the Pixel 4 was announced last October. Which means this Google Pixel shakeup likely won't show any changes until 2021 if not later.