While the launch of Pixel’s latest smartphone comes in a few weeks from now, it will be without the key creators behind its last and perhaps the most impactful model. According to a report from The Information, two of the most crucial Pixel team members have left the company. Prior to their departure earlier this year, members Mark Levoy and Mario Queiroz were key players on the smartphone’s hardware team.
In the case of Levoy, Google seems to have lost one of the biggest champions behind its camera efforts. Levoy was known for his pivotal work on the Google camera app and its advancements in computational photography. Camera features such as HDR+ and night sight were results of his remarkable efforts. Before being hired in 2014, Levoy had worked in Stanford on a project that eventually became ‘Google Maps’.
Due to Levoy’s efforts, Google had unarguably developed one of the most sophisticated camera setup a smartphone has ever seen. And Levoy’s pioneering work behind the same is well know in the tech industry. Thus, his exit could seriously hurt Google’s efforts to bring up an already dwindled sales figure for the Pixel line-up.
On the other hand, Mario Queiroz was number two on the Pixel team and held the designation of a general manager. After 14 years at the company, Queiroz reportedly left Pixel before the launch of Pixel 4 and exited Google shortly after.
While there is no official reason why the two left the company, the report unveils a shaky situation within the hierarchy of Pixel members. Reportedly, hardware head Rick Osterloh was not happy with Pixel 4 and its battery life, something that most critical reviews about the phone highlighted. Osterloh had offered some harsh criticism during the all-hands last year, according to people present in the meeting.
The exits come as Google wrestles competitors to make its place in the smartphone market. While its products have been well received, the search giant hasn’t been able to capture shares owing to players like Samsung or Huawei that have made the market a shark tank for Google. The company shipped near about 2 million units of the Pixel 4 in the first two quarters it was available, at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, according to IDC’s estimates, a drop from the 3.5 million Pixel 3 and nearly 3 million Pixel 3a models that shipped in the first two quarters of their availability.
The company did encounter some success with last year’s budget Pixel 3A launch. And while the follow up Pixel 4A was rumored to be coming out in May, it has reportedly been delayed.