It’s Time for Google to Nix the Pixel A-Series Lineup

Spreading itself too thin could hurt future Pixel phones

Key Takeaways

  • Rumors about a Pixel 6a releasing in 2022 are already starting to make the rounds.
  • While cheaper options are always nice, Google shifting its focus away from higher-end phones could ultimately hurt the future of its Pixel phones.
  • The premium look and feel are a big part of what has helped make the Pixel 6 so successful and well-liked.
Person using Google Pixel 6 smartphone

Google

Growing chip shortages and the threat of spreading its focus too thin are chief reasons Google should avoid the A-series Pixel phones, at least for a few years.

The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have finally been released, giving us a good taste of what to expect from Google’s first in-house processing chip. Despite the announcements being less than a few months old, rumors about a Pixel 6a have started to swirl. With the current state of the industry and the number of chip shortages plaguing manufacturers right now, shifting focus to a cheaper device could pull resources from its current and future flagship options.

While Google has created a name for itself by offering more budget-friendly phone options, shifting focus back to those cheaper options could lead the brand to stagnate once more.

Navigating Obstacles

To call the launch of the Pixel 6 an act of overcoming obstacles is an understatement. Not only did Google have to deliver on a powerful new chip that is made in-house, but it also had to overcome the stigma surrounding the Pixel lineup as a whole.

Since the introduction of the first Pixel phone in 2016, Google’s smartphone lineup has never fared as well as phones from other manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. Compare the highest number of Pixel phones sold in one year—more than 7 million—to Apple’s iPhone sales of the same year—more than 40 million, and the difference is staggering. Sales of Pixel phones have remained so slow that Google only planned to produce 800,000 Pixel 5 devices in 2020, a low bar compared to many other manufacturers.

But, the Pixel 6 has a chance to be different. Thanks to the Google-made chip inside, as well as the way Google has blended more premium hardware with its already great software, the company believes it will double the sales it saw in 2019 before the end of 2021. In fact, it’s already ramping up production to do so. If Google were to follow the standards that it has set in the past, then we would expect a Pixel 6a to drop sometime near the start of fall 2022. By that time, Google could already be working on plans for another flagship device, like a Pixel 7.

If it chooses to pursue a cheaper option, it has to be able to meet the needs of producing both its new flagship and its cheaper variant, which could be hard with the current chip shortages that are plaguing manufacturers like Apple. While Google doesn’t rely on Qualcomm or other third-party manufacturers to create its chipsets, it still needs to be able to provide all the materials needed to make them. 

"The Pixel 6 is the beginning of a new age for Google-made phones."

And the Pixel 6 isn’t the only thing Google is working on. It’s also working to create Google-made chips for Chromebooks and tablets, further spreading its focus.

The introduction of another mid-range phone, when the standard Pixel 6 already hits that price point, would only tighten the pipeline the company is already working with. To make matters worse, it could possibly drive up the cost of the phone itself, as Google wouldn’t be able to produce as many due to material scarcity.

The Cost of Saving Money

But there’s another factor to consider here. In most cases, at least when it comes to technology, budget offerings come at the prices they do because of the sacrifices they make. Cheaper material is used to make the body and some more premium features like larger screens, higher refresh rates, and camera types might be cut. We’ve seen this happen time and time again with budget-friendly devices, including past Pixel phones.

With the Pixel 6 already cutting most of the 'premium' features the lineup offers, is there really anything left to cut? Are the sacrifices Google would have to make to bring the price down to fit the A-series phones really worth it? The Pixel 6 is the beginning of a new age for Google-made phones, and it’s time for Google to fully embrace that by letting the A-series rest, at least for a little while.

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