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Why is the Google Pixel Launcher showing 1-5 installs?

The Pixel Launcher app, found on Google's Pixel and Pixel 2 phones, is currently said to have been installed only 1 to 5 times. Why? Let's investigate.

Published onDecember 14, 2017

  • The Google Pixel Launcher Play Store page shows that it has been installed between 1 and 5 times, despite that it comes installed on all Google Pixels
  • The install figure was previously showing 1 to 5 million, but we don’t know why it has changed.
  • This Play Store feature has been used in the past to indicate device sales.

A number of Android smartphones arrive with exclusive apps available in Google Play. These can be things like transfer apps, for swapping phones, dedicated camera apps (like the OnePlus Camera) or something else. Google’s Pixel phones arrive with their own apps too, such as the Pixel Launcher. However, its Play Store download page is currently showing incorrect information.

As pointed out by Android Police, the install figures for the Google Pixel apps, available on both the first and second generation Pixel and Pixel XL, currently show as “1-5” in the Google Play Store. This number gives an estimate of how many times an app has been installed, so in this case, it suggests that the Pixel Launcher, ARCore and Data Transfer Tool have each been installed between one and five times.

Of course, that isn’t the real number — we have more than five active Pixel phones between the AA staff alone — and it was previously in the 1 to 5 million category, so something is wrong with the listing.

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It’s the first time we’ve noticed that install number being in error for the Pixels, and the reason, perhaps, comes down to nothing more than a Play Store bug that will be quickly addressed. Similarly, Google could be running a test on the installs display.

Some of you might be aware, however, of another facet of this install figure button. We reported on speculated sales figures for the Essential Phone yesterday, and have done so several times in the past with other devices. In these cases, the estimates have been derived from Google’s Play Store installs system.

Basically, when apps are exclusive to a particular handset/handsets, their install numbers can be used as a way to gauge how many of the device(s) in question have been sold. Thus, when the Essential Phone’s camera recently jumped into the 50,000 – 100,000 threshold, we were able to speculate that this is roughly how many Essential Phones had been shipped.

Google is typically tight-lipped about smartphone sales figures — we have only speculation to go on as far as Pixel shipments are concerned (once again, based on app installs). If Google did want to stave off this kind of sales speculation for its Pixel range, though, fixing the install numbers for the Pixel apps at 1-5 would be an effective way to do it (you know, if they couldn’t/didn’t want to remove that button altogether).

I’ve reached out to Google on the matter and will update this page should I receive a response. What do you think is going on? Let us know in the comments.

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