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Verizon squashes rumors it will drop Google Pixel phones

Rumors that Verizon wasn’t keen to continue stocking Google Pixel smartphones have been squashed by the carrier. In a statement Verizon says:

“There’s no truth to this story. Verizon continues to work with Google and looks forward to the new portfolio of devices.”

This makes it clear Verizon wants to continue its long-standing partnership with Google, and we should expect it to stock both the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 devices — all of which are unofficial at the time of writing — following any launch during 2020. The original story, from an anonymous source speaking to Android Police, claimed the carrier had put plans to stock future Pixel phones on “indefinite hold.”

Verizon has been a key partner for Google in its efforts to build a desirable smartphone brand, having been Google’s (initially controversial) exclusive carrier partner for Pixel phones until 2019 and the launch of the Pixel 3a. Currently, you can purchase the Google Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XLPixel 4, and Pixel 4 XL at Verizon online and in retail stores.

Verizon is now just one of the carriers in the U.S. that sells the Pixel range, however. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 4 range can also be purchased directly through T-Mobile and Sprint, while the Pixel 4 can be purchased through AT&T. All Google’s phones are also available to buy unlocked directly through Google’s own online store, and with certain retailers including Best Buy.

Sales data

The wider availability of the Pixel 3a series helped Google build up its share of the U.S. market, with Counterpoint Research stating at the end of September 2019 the cheaper models had given it a 139% boost over the previous year. Where the now-denied rumor started to make some sense was when it was matched with analyst data on Pixel sales performance. Data from the end of 2019 claimed the Pixel models made up just 5% of Verizon’s total sales, down from the 7.5% reported in 2016 following the launch of the first Pixel and Pixel XL.

Despite the increased visibility after the Pixel 3a launch, Google still couldn’t crack the top 5 manufacturers in the U.S., and Google itself said Pixel 3 phones didn’t sell as well as the Pixel 2. In the Counterpoint research paper, it called the response to the Pixel 4’s launch, “lackluster.”

This doesn’t seem to be troubling Verizon, and the popularity of Pixel phones among a hardcore audience is enough incentive for the carrier to continue stocking the devices. Google is expected to launch the Pixel 4a range during the keynote presentation at its Google I/O developer conference, which takes place on May 12.

Update 2/21: Rewritten with clarification from Verizon after the original source of this post, Android Police, retracted their story. 

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