Google is good at building phones but bad at selling them

Google shipped 3.9 million Pixel phones last year, IDC says

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL launched previous year to no shortage of enthusiasm from Android fans, replacing handsets that had been equally lauded by vocal users. In contrast, the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 handsets were available for all of 2017.

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

The company reportedly only shipped 3.9 million Pixel phones in 2017, according to IDC research director Francisco Jeronimo.

That means, as a rough estimate, it would take less than a week of iPhone sales to eclipse Google's entire 2017 Pixel shipments. On the other hand, the IDC says Apple shipped 215.8 million iPhones in 2017, which works out to 4.15 million a week. By now, most people have already picked sides and the customer lock-in for iPhone and Samsung is strong. It wants to make the same high-end products Apple delivers, it wants to create its own custom hardware for them, it wants to control the software experience, and it even wants to improve user privacy.

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Though there are undoubtedly many reasons why Pixel sales were so disappointing, the most problematic is its lack of retail presence.

As Huawei and many Chinese phone makers have learned, the key to the us market is through carriers. Apple also has deals with all the major carriers in the U.S., putting iPhones in even more retail locations with even more salespeople.

While he didn't provide any concrete figures, Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently confirmed during the company's quarterly earnings call that Google has seen its device shipments more than double year-over-year. Its smartphones compete against the best the market has to offer, featuring cutting-edge hardware, vanilla Android and, unlike many of its droid-toting siblings, three years of support.

Even HMD Global, which began selling Nokia-branded smartphones past year, sold more phones than Google. HMD is now the world's sixth largest smartphone vendor.

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