The Google Pixel 9 could be in trouble

Leaked Google Pixel 9 Pro render.
Google Pixel 9 Pro OnLeaks / 91Mobiles

Google’s Pixel phones have never had the mindshare or market share of competitors like Samsung and Apple, but they’ve always been a solid third option in the Android phone market.

That may be set to change for the Google Pixel 9. A recent report by Stocklytics shows that 57% of Pixel phone owners are ready to switch to another brand when they upgrade. Only 25% of Pixel phone owners say they’re very unlikely to switch from the Pixel lineup.

The survey involved 10,000 smartphone owners in the U.S., and the results should raise alarm bells for Google. In contrast with these dismal stats, only 34% of Samsung owners said they would like to switch devices, with 44% saying they’re very unlikely to do so. That’s similar to the numbers for iPhone owners, with 34% saying they’re likely to switch and 50% saying they’re very unlikely to do so.

Stocklytics Pixel loyalty survey.
Stocklytics Pixel loyalty survey Stocklytics

To make matters worse, a report from Counterpoint Research (via PhoneArena) revealed that Google’s share of the U.S. smartphone market was even lower than the 2% share in early 2023. The percentage isn’t specified, but 2% is already quite low, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it was lower than a percent at this point.

Naturally, this is bad news for Google to get in advance of its likely Pixel 9 launch in October. We’re expecting up to three models — the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel Pro XL — and there have already been plenty of leaks about the design and the new Tensor G4 processor built on the 4nm Samsung Exynos 2400. Google is also expected to pack in a slew of AI features with Gemini Nano and a new AI assistant. Google has undoubtedly invested heavily into the Pixel 9, and it’ll need to invest even more into marketing.

Front and back renders of the Google Pixel 9 Pro.
OnLeaks / 91Mobiles

It’s hard to say for sure why the Pixel phones have such poor consumer loyalty relative to their competitors. Part of it is undoubtedly that fewer people are aware of the Pixel phones, and the ones that are tend to be enthusiasts who might be more critical of flaws. Digital Trends reviewed both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro well, giving them both 4.5 stars and praising the Pixel 8 Pro for its “exquisite design, top-notch cameras, and big processor upgrades.” We also called it “Google’s strongest Pixel yet.”

However, we dinged the phone for overheating problems, a mediocre battery life, and slow charging speeds. Overheating and battery life are issues that have cropped up periodically with Pixel devices, and it could be that people are becoming frustrated that Google hasn’t done more to fix these issues.

It’s not all bad news for Google. It actually succeeded in gaining market share in Japan, with 12% in the second quarter of 2023, up from 2% in the same quarter in 2021. Ultimately, this is still just one survey, and while 10,000 people is a fairly large sample size for statistical analysis, a sample size calculator shows a 5% margin of error. Early Pixel 9 sales after the phone’s launch may be a stronger measure of consumer interest and loyalty.