Google saw twice as much demand for the Pixel 2 on the first day of preorders as it did for the first generation of its flagship phone, CEO Sundar Pichai said.
“To get (the Pixel 2) in people's hands, we are also focused on scaling our go-to-market strategy,” Pichai said during Google’s quarterly earnings call Thursday, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. “We are investing more in marketing. We're launching in more countries and we are offering these devices in more retailers, and we are already seeing results. Pre-orders of Pixel on day one this year were more than double what they were last.”
Indeed, the internet search giant has invested heavily to expand its hardware business over the last two years. Google earlier this month introduced a half-dozen new gadgets—including a home speaker, a virtual reality handset and a new Pixelbook—during a high-profile event in San Francisco, and in September it announced a $1.1 billion cash deal to acquire 2,000 members of HTC’s mobile personnel team.
Google still claims only a tiny fraction of the overall handset market, of course. Verizon claims exclusive carrier rights to sell the phone in the United States—just as it did with the previous generation—which severely limits distribution, and other vendors have significantly larger device portfolios. It’s also worth noting that users have reported multiple problems with the display on the Pixel XL.
Google is moving very aggressively to become a major player in the device market, however, viewing hardware as another platform to deliver services and—of course—ads. And smartphones are just one component of its larger hardware business, Pichai said.
“On HTC, as we were working on our hardware efforts, we've been working with HTC very closely on the Pixel phones. So across the two companies, we saw a win-win construct, by which we could bring the team and the IP and other assets related to the Pixel business in-house,” Pichai claimed. “So it just made a lot of sense to do it. And I would also think about the overall capability we are getting, not just to make phones, but as we get into other product categories, like Google Home, VR and so on, right? And so it's important to continue to build that out. And the talent we saw there is definitely best in class.”