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How many Pixels has Google actually sold?

With all the fervent rumormongering regarding the next batch of Pixel smartphones, it seems an appropriate time to take a look at several of the theories making the rounds about how many millions of Pixel and Pixel XL units Google has actually sold.

The phone launched eight months ago and has remained a strong seller at Verizon, where it was marketed as an exclusive (it's not; it's also sold unlocked in the Google Store). Regardless, that was certainly a winning strategy, as 7.5% of all phone activations on Verizon late last year (since the phones launched) were a Pixel or Pixel XL. (Sadly, thanks in part to a disjointed marketing strategy, other carriers only ranked in at 2% for the same end-of-2016 time period.)

So, we know the phone is selling relatively well with the help of the carrier that was heavily marketing it as an exclusive. But how well did it sell for Google? According to Ars Technica, it just barely hit a million units:

Unlike just about every hardware manufacturer on Earth, Google doesn't share official sales numbers for the Pixel phones, choosing to bundle the income under Alphabet's "Other Revenues" during earnings reports. We do have one very solid signal for Pixel sales, though: the Play Store, which shows install numbers for apps. If there was an app that was exclusive and install-by-default on the Pixel phones, like say, the Pixel Launcher, the install number would basically be the number of sold activated phones.This calculation is complicated by the fact that Google Play doesn't show exact install numbers; it shows installs in "tiers" like "100,000-500,000." So most of the time, we won't have an exact Pixel sales number—except when the Pixel Launcher crosses from one download tier to another. So guess what just happened? The Pixel Launcher just crossed into the "1,000,000-5,000,000" install tier (you can see some third-party tracking sites, like AppBrain, still have it listed at 500,000). So for this one moment in history, eight months after launch, we can say Google finally sold a million Pixel phones.

Since there aren't any official sales numbers offered by Google (or Alphabet, as it were), the guesstimate is based on the number of downloads of the Pixel Launcher in the Play Store. The result paints a rather grim picture, however, which didn't seem to be the case when we initially pored over Verizon's Q3 2016 finance reports:

Let's look at Verizon's Q3 2016 earnings report, where we can see it activates roughly 8 million phones per quarter. If you assume Verizon activates a similar number in Q4, that'd average out to 600,000 Pixels activated at Verizon in the first three months...

Last year, the company had a record of activating roughly 8 million phones a quarter. If we assume Verizon maintained a consistent number of Pixels activated per quarter — 7.5% of 8 million, which makes it about 600,000 units — then that puts the number at close to 2 million units, on Verizon alone, since the initial debut. The result then gives less credence to the idea that only a measly million units were sold.

Overall, we don't know how Google actually calculates its Play Store install numbers, but based on what we know about Verizon's sales we certainly can't make the inference based solely on the number of installs displayed in the Play Store.

What we do know is that Google still has a long journey ahead of it before its branded smartphones sell as well as Apple's iPhones (or any of the dozens of companies surely above Google's sales currently). There sure are plenty of Android users in the world, but only a small fraction of them are on the Pixel or Pixel XL.

Florence Ion is an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

100 Comments
  • They priced it out of the competition. Maybe the will learn with Pixel 2, or maybe they don't care?
  • If the features had been worthy of the price, it would have been fine. No wireless charging, giant bezels, limited water resistance, no SD card. The only thing this had going for it was Google branding and the Nexites who like instant new OS loads.
  • There has only been on Nexus device in history with a SD card. The Nexus One. Every other Google branded phone has been internal storage only. Looks like you'll be sticking with HTC/Samsung/LG devices from here on out.
  • I for one will never buy a phone that doesn't include an SD slot if they don't increase the included storage. They have lost me for generations over this flaw.
  • Price was not the factor that lack of available units was. You cannot sell 10 million units if you cannot have them available...at ANY price.
  • Totally agree - I would have one had they been available even w/i a month when I needed a new phone!
  • I work at a large consumer electronics store in the San Jose area. The largest inventory we had in the store since release of the phone was under four units. There were weeks when we did not have stock. During the weeks when the phone was first released, we could have sold a lot more but could not because of availability. I think the Note 7 debacle may have driven sales higher than expected. But the continued lack of inventory is puzzling. I heard that Verizon spent 90 million dollars in November on advertising, much of it focused on the Pixel phones. The demo phone in the store was the "most handled phone" in the store for several weeks. I turned away scores of potential buyers...
  • They don't care, they want higher margins which is nothing wrong since there are other options at lower price
  • They made a quality product at a fair price. Don't like it? Don't buy it
  • Obviously that's exactly what happened lol. Many people didn't buy it.
  • OR.... it simply means most people couldn't care less about a phone running pure Android or getting updates first.
  • There is truth there. I have an opinion that you are probably better off not buying the Pixel because Samsung, LG and HTC all run in the sweet spot where apps run on the OS without issue. New versions of Android can have compatability issues.
  • THIS! I hear its a nice phone.. i'll find out in 2 years when I can buy it for less than $400
  • Heh, same like BlackBerry. The numbers are low no matter how you look at it. Even 2 million units sold for the year is nothing. I am confident in saying it is less than that.
  • It's too​ expensive for what it is, at 1000+ CAD I could get an unlocked S8 or iPhone and arguably get a much better phone. Hopefully they'll be a bit more reasonable with the pixel 2 :/
  • If the P2 isn't an HTC with mega bezels .. then I'd get one. But having "stock Android" in that chassis didn't really make me want it.
  • Yeah. That's not a good way to count. I rooted my old S5 and put Cm14 on it and it had the pixel launcher pre installed. It also showed as a pixel device in my Device manager.
  • Having a phone with stock Android, but lacking in a sharp screen like Samsung's Amoled design, that's a breaker for me. If Google wants to up their quality, I'll take a serious look. But stock Android, I'm not a developer, software or hardware expert... just a businessman who uses his phone really hard and my eyes need a sharp and crisp screen and the Sammys do a very good job in that area.
  • Lmao. 😂 Why don't you Google it and find out who supplies the Pixel screens. Thanks for the laughs. 😂
  • I figured he was trolling. I suppose he could be serious...
  • Being from the same screen manufacturer does not guarantee, in any way, the same end quality of the panel on two different devices :)
  • Except in this case because the panel on the Pixel was one of the best AMOLED panels around. It didn't get as bright as Samsung's, but then very few AMOLED panels do...
  • Precisely my point. Just looking at the manufacturer of the display panel itself isn't going to tell you that it's the same overall quality in the completed smartphone. Samsung makes some really special things happen with the displays it puts in its own phones.
  • Not just displays. They could do wonders with Sony camera sensors that no Xperia could match.
  • Well, Andrew, you've consistently said that they have great screens, haven't you? Particularly, the XL. Are you officially changing your opinion on that now?
  • I have consistently said the Galaxy S6/S7/S8 have had the best screens in the industry in their respective years. The screens Samsung reserves for its own phones are a notch above everything else it competes with. Not sure when I would have ever said the Pixel/Pixel XL had a better screen than the Galaxy S8 or S7. The Pixel/Pixel XL screens are good, definitely above average, but they're not the best available today (or even at the time they launched).
  • No where in my comment did I say that you said they had the BEST screens. What I did say is that you've stated that they have great screens, and I think you've probably stated that somewhere around a 1,000 times since last October.
  • And he hasn't said anything different in this thread. They do have great screens, but they're not as great as those on the Samsung S7 and S8.
  • But he didn't say that you said he said that you said he said that... wait... Ah, forget it.
  • Thank you. The Pixel screens I've seen do not exhibit the same brightness or clarity as the Samsung Amoled screens. The other detractors... they have their own opinions! I could care less!
  • I have never seen the Pixel out in the wild. And I'm in an area where Verizon really has a stranglehold.
  • I've never thought about it before, but it's the same for me. Most people I see using their phones are either on an iPhone or Samsung. Very few are other brands. (and I sport a Moto, so I do keep an eye out for them.)
  • I know of about a dozen Pixel/XL owners between co-workers, family, and friends, but have only seen a couple otherwise on trains and such.
  • How is life working at Google?/s
  • I've only seen 1 in Miami. It's mostly iPhones and Galaxys.
  • I never see anything other than iPhones and Galaxies. That just leads me to believe most smartphone owners are ignorant to technology.
  • Yep, it's just what is popular right now. Has nothing to do with what is actually the best.
  • It was too pricy and bezely for me. For $800+ it needed really compelling hardware. I almost see it as a downgraded from my Nexus 6. If it was $500 for the XL, I would probably have one. They had to lower the price or make better hardware.
  • ROFLMAO....not laughing at you, but the term "Bezely". I like it and is a very fitting term to describe phone design in 2016 and beyond. Design is too slippery, too edgy, too boxy, and too Bezely.
  • I know what they should do for Pixel 2, make it uglier. Reduce the built in storage to 32gb and increase it's price to $999. That will make it sell like hot cakes.
  • That methods seems to be working for Apple. :)
  • I got it for the Camera but I'm come to love how fluid the OS is. Only the Moto Z Force Droid has come close to this kind of smoothness.
  • Same, I wanted a good camera, good performance, and updates. I have not been let down
  • "If we assume Verizon maintained a consistent number of Pixels activated per quarter" This assumption seems unlikely to be true to me. As newer phones come out, there is a new "best thing" out there.
  • We don't have a lot of true, hard numbers to work with here, so we have to control for something considering we're making assumptions about so many other variables. Controlling for the rate at which Verizon is activating phones seems like an OK idea given the constraints. I think the major point here is, based on the numbers we had at the end of 2016, we'd be on pace for Verizon alone to sell about 2x the reported 1 million number — that's the telling part. Even if you made an assumption that sales trailed off since Nov 2016, Verizon would've sold over 1 million Pixels.
  • Pixel was marketed as a mainstream phone for the masses, unlike the Nexus. Turns out, it's completely the other way around..
  • RIP Pixel 2019
  • Not even close. RIP means the phone will no longer be manafactured. I'm buying along with millions more. You follow the herd with the others.
  • I follow what the majority want in a phone. Stock android is not it. Pixels will be gone in three years max of the sales trend continues on the same path as the last year. Regardless if they fix the supply challenges.
  • How many could they really sell when it's never available to buy? Fanboys say it was just selling so quickly that it was always out of stock, but I'm willing to bet that if we could get real sales numbers, they wouldn't support that hypothesis. Google/HTC needed to do much better with manufacturing/stock if they wanted to sell them.
  • Exactly. I was on the wait list for a 128GB XL from early on until February. They would have sold many more if they had anticipated sales or been able to produce phones in a timely fashion.
  • I know for a fact that Google could've sold more if they were actually in stock, especially the 128gb variants.
  • True. I'm sure there were plenty who wanted to buy. They get on-line and see it's not available at the moment. They move on to the next phone. Fail on Google's part regarding stock.
  • Google has nerfed just about every phone launch since I started buying the Nexus 4. It seems like they always have issues with stock. I wonder why they cannot just take orders and ship the phone when they are ready? I received my Pixel XL in mid November but I know they had issues stocking the Pixel XL in 128 GB for several months.
  • They cannot just "take orders and ship" because they do not own the means of production OR have priority on parts and production line time.
  • Of course they would've sold more if they were never out of stock. That's basic economics. The question is, how many sales were actually lost due to stock shortages? Not a number that can ever be known, but I'd love to see educated guesses.
  • Adequate sampling and page-view data on Google's side would result in some reasonable estimates. Something tells me it's not as high as some people may think.
  • The 32gb variant was readily available since I could've picked up a Pixel or the XL whenever I wanted, but I didn't want 32gb of storage(more likely around 23'ish). I couldn't possibly guess how many 128gb Pixel/XLs would've sold.
  • Well, They lost out on 2 possible 3 purchases from me due to lack of stock. My initial pre-order shipping date was changed 3 times on 1 device, so that user moved on. My 2 other upgrades 5 weeks ago were lost sales as well due to availability. I was ready and had the cash , but VZW and Google both could not provide me with the device I desired. I know that is just 3 devices, But, add that up across many families/account holders and it could be significant.
  • I passed on it since the the elusive 128gb XL was never available. I wasn't willing to wait.
  • The Pixel 2 is still going to be my phone of choice. So in that case - it is a success. I fundamentally like Google's services and the direction they are going in. Waiting 170+ days to receive an update is not worth supporting - so I will not buy Samsung. So it's either the Pixel 2 or Apple for my next phone.
  • Going with someone other than HTC will result in more sales. Simple.
  • While I agree updates are important, keep in mind Apple phones tend to get worst when they get updated.
  • Yeah, Apple's track record lately has been absolutely terrible. It seems like every update to my iPad fixes one thing and breaks another 2.
  • They've got a great product, they need a better sales strategy. No one knows what a Pixel is.
  • True. Google is making progress though. I have seen more Pixel compared to Nexus in the wild by a wide margin. Pixel spotted around 12
    Nexus spotted around 4 Nevermind , all of that sucks actually.
  • The Verizon commercial was misleading to say the least, every time I saw that commercial when they blabbered out "only on Verizon" was wrong on many levels.
  • I think what hurt them the most was not having stock. Then, when they did have stock, there were credible rumors of a new one coming out. Few would buy the old unit at that price, knowing a new one was around the corner.
  • The Blue Pixel and Blue Pixel XL should have came out with 128gb. Long waits for delivery drove me crazy. Ended up getting an iPhone 7 while I waited for my Pixel to finally arrive. Hopefully the rollout for the new ones will be much better.
  • It will not be better. For some reason Google wears it as a badge of honor that they have issues selling phones.
  • I don't see myself buying anything other than a Pixel for my next phone, even if it lacks some features. The updates, performance, and camera quality have me hooked. They would have to really drop the ball for me to look elsewhere.
  • Pixel or OnePlus
  • I still don't understand why people think the software is so good. Google's software is like being stuck in perpetual beta. There are always bugs with Bluetooth or the phone freezing or wherever.
  • Are you talking about Android in general, which is Google's software?
  • You are mistaken.. That's why you don't understand. You read one or two things and you believe it's the case with all of them
  • Google made a resolution to have more pixels.
  • I see what you did there ;)
  • I like what you did there
  • The commercials were confusing to most generations. None of my older family or in-laws ever figured it out it seems. They need to clearly say... This is better than anything you have. That's all people understand these days
  • The tagline "Phone by Google" was trash. Should have left it at "by Google" since it damn well looks like a phone.
  • Their advertising was horrible. Nobody understood what was being advertised
  • As expected in my opinion.
    I'm currently rocking the Nexus 6P and I'm interested in the new Pixel 2 as long as it doesn't look the same as the Pixel. I'll take some bezel as long as I get front facing speakers. Oh, and hopefully it doesn't cost around $800.
  • The stocking issues probably had a role in this.
  • Where were these things actually available? US + Canada + ? + ? + ?
  • As of now, the Play Store has the Pixel on sale in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, India, Germany and UK. Resellers seem to have it available throughout Europe.
  • Yeah, it was a Unicorn device to me. Very very good, but too much trouble to get a hold of. Paying above retail on Swappa and other sites and adding and removing myself from the official wait list was too much trouble. I've moved on.
  • Lol the lengths you people go to pretend the iPixels aren't a flop is amazing.
  • I have used iPhones and BlackBerry for years. I've also tried the newest and greatest Android phone every year that they came out. The closest one to pulling me away from Apple was the S7 Edge but it still had lag and froze occasionally on me. Then the Pixel came out so I thought I'd try it. I was blown away by the smoothness. This thing has NEVER stuttered, slowed, frozen, or not done what I asked of it. I had the iPhone 7 and gave it up. The Pixel has done what no other Android phone was able to do. It has made me an Android convert from the iPhones that I have used for years. If more iPhone users would give the Pixel a try I think they would be pleasantly surprised. I for 1 am a Pixel fan. My Pixel is a tool that I use for work and it does what I need. Never lets me down.
  • If only it was available outside the US
  • Not very many. Pretty pathetic they can't even keep it in stock when it's selling at these numbers.
  • Is anyone else having issues with Google search app, ok google? I always have to force stop to get it to work
  • They haven't sold many here in New Zealand as they refuse to put it in their Play Store. There is one parallel importer that does sell it at a premium price of course..
  • Supply issues was the problem. I mean like the Watch Sport to still be in a waiting list, and to this day you can't just buy one I've every model at any given time is ridiculous. Love my Blue Pixel, and I will probably buy the replacement the second the site goes live to avoid this kind of issue. But shouldn't have too.
  • The biggest problem with Google devices is that they are not available in a lot of countries. So even without much popularity they would still get sales by mere fact that they are available for people to purchase. I'm in South Africa for example and there is no Google branded device selling here other than those being brought in by some less known internet sellers.
  • Not nearly as many as they COULD have sold. Overpriced + understocked = I'm wasn't even going to try.
  • People don't buy a boring stock device for the same price as one with all the latest and greatest. (Besides iPhone users) Same goes when buying a car, home appliances, computers or a house. If you can get it with all the upgrades for the same price it's a no brainier. Most people would rather have all the latest tech than the latest date for a security patch or OS...
  • 100% agree.
  • Nothing people are complaining about matters to me. What matters is battery life, where Android is still quite weak, IMO. Standby Times are still terrible compared to iOS and the old Windows Phone I had in 2010. A GS8 will drain 14% overnight while my iPhone 7+ drains 1-2%. That's like 20-25% of your battery going away with your phone sitting there doing nothing over a 24 hour period off the charger, while an iPhone would lose +/- 5%, and that's in an area with pretty lackluster Verizon coverage (my iPhone) and excellent T-Mobile coverage (the GS8 - both phones were on WiFi, though). Additionally, I see absolutely no value in Google's services: Play Music, Photos, Play Books, Google Drive, Keep, Allo & Duo, Assistant, etc. because Android users are extremely fickle and tend to forego Google's own offerings for alternatives at a much higher rate than iOS users. If someone has an iPhone there is'a 99.8% chance they will receive my iMessage or FaceTime call. If someone has an Android device the chance for Allo and Duo decrease to about 15%, and that's being extremely generous. Most people I know use OEM Stock Apps over Google's own. Friend of mine has a GS8 and he uses the Samsung Gallery, Media Playback (Music/Video) and Messages Apps on his phone... He uses Waze as his mapping app (Google owns them, but...). I know some people who use Google Accounts like an Apple ID. They don't use any of the services, but they need it for Play Store Access... Many seem to have pieced together their own personal services ecosystems from a mish mash of disparate web services. This is less of an issue on iOS devices, where the users tend to put much higher value on Apple's services - to the point where some have become primary selling points for the hardware.
  • Quoting "mmcclure0453" : "If more iPhone users would give the Pixel a try I think they would be pleasantly surprised." I played with it, multiple times. I wasn't impressed. Coming from an iPhone 6S Plus, the fake 3D Touch wasn't impressive at all. The Fingerprint reader being put on the back of the phone, was a usability showstopper for me. The fact that the Pixel is smooth isn't going to change the fact that iOS has a really big API Lead on Android, or the fact that there is a clear app quality disparity in iOS' favor. For example, I can buy the most powerful Android phone on the market, it still won't allow an App like Coach's Eye or Hudl Technique to record 120FPS 1080p or 240FPS 720p. The Android Platform has no standardized way to account for disparities among devices, so anything you buy is going to be "a crapshoot." On iOS it "just works," because the app can query the device and be provided you with all supported options, which it then offers to the user. For this type of use case, Android isn't even an option - and this is primarily the reason why I switched to iOS, in the first place. Being "smooth" doesn't fix that. It's a fundamental problem on the platform. It can be the best thing since sliced bread, but it literally is dysfunctional for the types of things that I need a smartphone for. Even years-old iPads running old iOS versions can do this properly, but many "latest flagship devices" running the latest version of Android cannot (complete crapshoot, but much more likely to fail than succeed). Secondly, there is an issue with app quality. More apps on Android are AdWare, and support just isn't at the same level as on iOS. Google Play is still showing itself to be a harbor of malware, and OEMs are changing form factors in app-incompatible ways before developers (or the platform itself, for that matter) is ready to move in that direction (i.e. Samsung's Screen Aspect Ratio). And of course you know the wait for the Android "O" update is going to be months for those users... You can bet that if Apple does this with the iPhone 8, 2 weeks after release half the App Store will have been updated to support it, as they do for practically everything else Apple releases... Also, I honestly can't remember the last time I've had an App Crash on my iPhone. Even Google Apps crashed regularly on my Android Phones (damn that "News & Weather" app). I also tend to prefer mobile platforms that integrate with a desktop platform. Once you experience that, it's hard to give it up. I like thick client apps on my desktop, with full functionality offline and no requirement to use a specific browser, or whatever. I like being able to Text, Call, Copy/Paste, and Resume Work on different devices. Once you get used to that, there is no going back.
  • Maybe I should have explained how I "gave the Pixel a try". I packed my iPhone 7 in my closet for a month and gave the Pixel an honest try. Not just messing with it several times... It took me a little while to get used to it and figure out how to do things. But for MY use, it did all my iPhone did with ease. And my iPhone 7 would constantly have apps crash. One of the main ones being my local news app. Most of my touch attempts on the screen required 2 attempts to get a response from the phone. I will say, that was not normal for my iPhone. It only did it on my 7. I don't understand a lot of the things you were saying Android won't do. You obviously have very different needs out of your mobile device than I do. My experience, coming from iPhone, was a very pleasant one with the Pixel. But, as I said, I gave it an honest effort to learn the new phone and it works for me. May not be for everyone but the iPhone users that I know have been surprised at how well Android works on my Pixel. It's definitely not the laggy, choppy, buggy, experience that I knew in previous years. And that is why I stuck with iPhone for so many years. As you said - it just worked. Now, in my experience, Pixel has brought that "just works" experience to Android.