Google Pixel shipments double, but fewer than 4 million were sold in 2017

Pixel 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google shipped 3.9 million Pixel smartphones in 2017, according to an analyst’s data. This covers both the Pixel and Pixel 2 devices of both sizes, and is apparently higher than the sales recorded in the past, with the analyst noting that Pixel device shipments doubled from those in 2016. It’s important to note that the figure is based on shipments, which refers to devices sent to distributors, carriers, and ordered by Google itself, rather than the amount actually purchased by regular people.

The Google Pixel phones are sold directly through the Google Play store, and also through the Verizon network in the United States. In the United Kingdom it’s also available through Google, along with several other retailers and networks, including Carphone Warehouse. The phones are sold around the world in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Puerto Rico, depending on the model. This makes a difference when comparing Pixel sales to other devices which are often sold globally.

For example, the Pixel 2’s natural rival is the Apple iPhone, but they are very difficult to compare using sales numbers. During the final three months of 2017, Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones, and that number was down from the same period the year before. While the two cannot realistically be compared due to Apple’s giant distribution, it does put Google’s struggle to create its own iPhone challenger into context. Taking on the iPhone with a strong smartphone is an area where Google has ambitions, above the Pixel simply being a reference device for pure Android, and is proven by its recent deal with HTC.

Google acquired a special team of engineers from HTC in a massive $1.1 billion deal that closed in January, along with nonexclusive rights to current and future HTC technology. These engineers already worked with Google on the Pixel phones, and are likely to do so with future generations. Spending this amount of money shows Google’s seriousness about its hardware projects, and how it doesn’t simply want to rely on the hundreds of manufacturers making Android devices to push beyond the billion-or-more Android users around the world. The Pixel’s shipment data, however, illustrates the work that lies ahead.