Alphabet’s second-quarter earnings were big for several reasons, as the company beat analyst expectations and initiated a $25 billion stock buyback. But the news nugget that hits closest to home for people who care about the actual products Google makes came in the earnings call: Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Pixel sales in Q2 doubled year-over-year, thanks to the Pixel 3a and 3a XL‘s launch at Google I/O.
It’s no surprise that people desired a less-expensive Pixel, and sales were weak up to this point.
This announcement is obviously something Google can be proud of, but doesn’t come as any surprise. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL are generally regarded as solid mid-range phones with excellent cameras, providing great value at the $400-500 price range. The fact that they came out months later than originally expected clearly had little effect on sales — people just want a cheaper Google phone, and they weren’t just going to pay more for a Pixel 3 or 3 XL because they were impatient.
And that leads to the other reason why this isn’t surprising: the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, by all accounts, haven’t been selling well at all. That follows a trend of the previous Pixel phones, and while you can quibble over just how low the numbers are, we know they aren’t big enough to be influencing the overall smartphone market. Doubling sales of anything is impressive, but when you have some insight into the fact that Pixel sales were small to start with it becomes less impressive.
Some of the added sales success can likely be attributed to expanded distribution as well, with Google making deals with several U.S. carriers, and perhaps most notably expanding sales to Amazon. It shouldn’t be shocking that creating a new product line at a more affordable price, and pairing it with wider availability, is a recipe for selling more phones than you ever have before.