Pixel general manager Mario Queiroz and Marc Levoy, "the genius behind Google's Pixel camera," both quit the Pixel team last year. Both Queiroz and Levoy were visible Pixel team members at launch events, where they typically give lengthy presentations on the new apps.In particular, Levoy's departure is cause for concern, because the Pixel's camera was one of the phone line's main bright spots.

The Pixel 4 has not been an enormous success. During the first two years it's priced less than the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Osterloh was not sure about the product being launched in the lead-up, either. The report says "before the launch in New York in October [Pixel 4]," Osterloh called an all-hands meeting and expressed his reservations about the handset.He reportedly "did not agree with some of the phone decisions" and that "he was particularly disappointed with his battery power." Osterloh runs the Pixel team, so this report gives some insight into his style of management.Approving these kinds of specific directions for a Steve Jobs style will be a major part of his day-to-day decision making. Osterloh is something of a hands-off delegator, obviously.

Following "sluggish sales and repetitive feedback" for the Pixel 4, the study states, "the hardware division of the business needs to retain popularity and support as Google's top brass tries to rein in costs due to a recent downturn in advertising revenue."Seeing Google Hardware in the same phrase as Google's cost-cutting efforts is a bit scary — Google has been aggressively killing products that don't pull in millions of users on a regular basis, and it's hard to argue that the Pixel line has been doing well or is even improving over its four years.We've already seen some of Google Hardware's divisions get the ax; Osterloh has confirmed the team is leaving the tablet business after the Pixel Slate's poor results.

All eyes are on the midrange Pixel 4a right now which will be released next month. Although a cheaper handset, the Pixel 3a was a decent seller as far as Pixel phones go, but after years of resisting the idea with the argument that "Pixel stays premium" in 2017, it was just the first midrange handset Google made. The midrange market has been dead for years, and Google could mostly have had it to itself.However in 2020, thanks to the launch of the new iPhone SE, the Pixel 4a will have to do business in a suddenly hyper-competitive midrange market.

The Pixel team isn't necessarily standing still as regards the future. A new Axios article says Google is working on its own key SoC for a potential Pixel phone that might reach the market "as early as next year," meaning the Pixel 6.Google has gradually introduced more and more of its own hardware to the Pixel line, such as the Titan M protection chip, the Pixel Visual Core and the Project Soli chip in the Pixel 4, but none of this custom hardware has resulted in a important, meaningful advantage over its competitors.