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Google is good at building phones but bad at selling them

14 February 2018

But Pixel phones are set to become a mainstay in the coming years as Google has invested $1.1 billion to acquire the smartphone and engineering talent from HTC.

While that's technically double the phones Google shipped in 2016, there's a fairly important caveat to take note of.

With Pixel phones not available in many global countries, it's not unlikely Google is working on a longer-term strategy.

Last month, the price of the first-generation Rs 76,000 Pixel XL "quite black" colour variant was slashed by Rs 36,000 on e-commerce platform Amazon in India. In 2016, Google brought in former Motorola executive Rick Osterloh to lead its hardware division, which includes its Google Home smart speakers, Chromecast streaming devices and Google Wi-Fi routers.

According to IDC, Google shipped 3.9 million Pixel smartphones past year, which is not a whole lot when you consider just how many tens of million of units the big players ship in a single quarter. You can sell the phones unlocked all you want, and even offer financing options, but if customers can't walk into their carrier store of choice and buy your phone, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

"Presumably, the jump to 3.9 million is largely thanks to the Pixel 2 but discounts on the original Pixel earlier in the year (and following the 2's debut) could tip the numbers in the other direction", the report added. That's not a massive number, but it shows great growth for the company's lineup. For Google, the Pixel phone business is mostly a hobby at this stage with the company relying extensively on its OEM partners for the device.

Google has high hopes for the Pixel line.

Most of this is on Google, though. A phone that pushes into the value pricing market would be a big help, too.

Google is good at building phones but bad at selling them