Google is good at building phones but awful at selling them

Google shipped 3.9 million Pixel phones last year, IDC says

Data from IDC shows that Google Pixel sales doubled a year ago to 3.9 million, but still represents "a tiny portion of the 1.5 billion market size".

In this respect, the Pixel is no different from the Nexus phones that came before it.

But the Pixel isn't a massive commercial success for Google for the time being.

That means, as a rough estimate, it would take less than a week of iPhone sales to eclipse Google's entire 2017 Pixel shipments. Most Android customers still prefer Samsung's and Chinese vendors' devices that are loaded with bloatware.




While that's technically double the phones Google shipped in 2016, there's a fairly important caveat to take note of. The search engine giant recently acquired part of HTC's smartphone business for $1.1 billion, which should help the company strengthen its hardware presence. Most people in the premium segment, which the Pixel phones target, have already become loyal to Apple, Samsung, or another brand. In the USA, 90% of smartphones are sold via wireless carriers.

As Huawei and many Chinese phone makers have learned, the key to the USA market is through carriers.

With Pixel phones not available in many global countries, it's not unlikely Google is working on a longer-term strategy. According to data from TrendForce, HMD sold 4.4 million devices during the holiday quarter alone. In comparison, between their release in April 2017 and August of the same year, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 plus sold 20 million units-and those were just two of the many phones released by Samsung that year. So let's look at the average for the calendar year 2017.

Pixel smartphone sales are certainly heading in the right direction, validating the company's recent push into making Google hardware. In fact, Apple and HMD Global will be the only major vendors to see an increase in sales this year as the smartphone market matures.

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