Sales of Google’s latest smartphone, Pixel, kicked off well in pre-holiday sales following the phone’s release in October. All told, both Pixel models accounted for roughly 0.5% of phone sales in the U.S. for the period ending on October 31. While the sales data does not sound impressive when compared to that of Apple or Samsung, the Pixel results helped Google to pull even with sales of Microsoft’s flagging smartphone and Chinese handset maker Huawei.
Another point which is could be overlooked by some is that the Pixel was not released until October 20. This means that the published sales totals were achieved in 11 days, compared to three months for the other brands. Director of Global Consumer insights at Kantar, Lauren Guenveur, noted that Apple sold nearly 41% of the new phones over the same period.
Based on estimates, Google should sell between 3 to 5 million new phones in the Fourth quarter – Apple is expected to sell nearly 80 million iPhones in the same period. What is interesting for industry analysts is whether Google’s latest smartphone entry will continue to gain share in the market. If so, the this could complicate the internet company’s relationship with other handset makers such as LG and Samsung who rely on Google’s Android operating system to power their devices.
The Pixel is the seventh-generation smartphone released by Google and was manufactured by Taiwanese handset maker HTC. While the fact that Google has released previous smartphones does not raise any red flags with the company’s Android partners, the aggressive marketing may ruffle some feathers.
The segment has been something which Google has always shown an interest. In 2012, the company acquired Motorola and its patents for $12.5 billion and many industry analysts felt that would be used to compete head-to-head with Apple. However, the Motorola acquisition never amounted to much and in 2014, the company sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion.
As mentioned, Google released two models of the Pixel phone in late-October – a 5-inch and a 5.5-inch version. Since then consumers have been flocking to the phones due to the number of added features they offer such as the voice-activated personal assistant and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 chip, which is one of the fasted on the market. Reviewers also scored the phone quite highly, comparing some of the features to Apple’s iPhone 7.
An exclusive distribution deal with Verizon has also aided sales of the Pixel as subscribers of competing cell networks needed to switch carriers or purchased the phones from Best Buy or directly from Google. One thing which is not known is whether the company will continue to sustain the marketing campaign, which helped to raise awareness. Industry analysts say that the company may have spent $100 million or more as part of the Pixel marketing campaign and an open question is whether sales will continue to grow without the marketing support.
Shares of Google closed up 1.8% at $809.45 on Friday.