Google's Pixel selling well despite limited stocks, Verizon exclusivity

EE's black Google Pixel smartphone
Google's Pixel

Verizon’s exclusive grip on Google’s Pixel isn’t preventing the phone from selling well during the holiday season, analysts say. Which means you may not be able to get your hands on one until next week at the earliest.

“The Pixel is a hit at Verizon, with reps claiming 12.3 percent share of smartphones sold at Verizon stores this month,” Wave7 Research wrote in a recent research note to subscribers. “Most Pixel SKUs are now shipping after Christmas or in January and most SKUs are not in stock at most Verizon stores.”

Google unveiled the Pixel and Pixel XL in October, and the handsetsthe smaller of which starts at $650have received rave reviews. The nation’s largest wireless carrier immediately backed the phone with a $25 million marketing campaign and continues to tout the phone although its spending has cooled.

Wave7 isn’t the only firm to take note of the strong Pixel sales. Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research cited high demand for the phone when he slashed his estimates for Sprint’s net postpaid adds for the current quarter and next quarter this week, and handset research firm BayStreet Research said the device is exceeding the firm’s expectations.

“With a marketing campaign on the scale of an Apple or Samsung campaign, combined with a very good device and the Note 7 debacle, the Pixels have quickly grown to a ~5 percent share at Verizon,” said BayStreet Analyst Cliff Maldonado in an email to FierceWireless. “What is also interesting is how Google’s brand is resonating with premium smartphone buyers. Google appears to have created an aspirational brand alternative to Samsung and Apple, something the other Android OEMs have struggled to offer for years.”

Samsung’s calamitous endeavor with the Galaxy Note dampened expectations in the high-end smartphone market entering the holiday season, and Wave7 said Apple continues to take advantage as the year comes to an end. Apple has accounted for the majority of smartphone sales at the retail outlets of each of the major wireless carriers through the fourth quarter thus far, according to the research firm.

But limited stocks are a problem with the new iPhone as well, preventing Apple from gaining an even bigger lead on its rivals.

“At last, the iPhone 7 Plus is mostly in stock online for near-term shipping, although stock at stores remains dicey,” Wave7 wrote. “The iPhone 7 outsells the iPhone 7 Plus slightly at all four carriers, but reps estimated that the iPhone 7 Plus would have outsold the iPhone 7 over the past month, had it been in stock.”

Article updated Dec. 22 to clarify comments from Maldonado.