Truly great smartphones hit the market all the time, but their greatness is purely subjective; almost everyone put out has their own niche, a fact that a look at the top end of the market will quickly confirm. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is feature-rich and caters to the everyman. The Lenovo Moto Z is slick, clean, and modular. The HTC 10 is luxurious and easy to use. The Nexus lineup has always been the go-to for stock Android purists and developers, but now the Pixel and Pixel XL have stepped up to fill that niche, offering quick updates and developer support in an understated body. In the past, that's never been enough to convince the masses to take the bait, but Morgan Stanley is predicting a bit of a change for 2017.
According to the bank, experts on all things commerce, Google's new devices are projected to sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or 6 million over the course of 2017, along with 3 million or so in this final quarter of 2016. While Google is somewhat mum about exact numbers, it's quite safe to say that the Pixel lineup is already eclipsing its Nexus family forebears in sales figures and popularity, partly due to much more aggressive advertising than ever before. In the United States, the only carrier that will sell you a Pixel directly is Verizon, a questionable tactic on Google's part that seems to be working thus far; the phone even managed to make a prominent appearance at this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade courtesy of Verizon's 360-degree coverage of the event.
If sales figures work out as projected, Google will see close to $4 billion in total revenue from the device family. This number reflects a profit margin falling between 22% and 25%, depending on the device sold. This stands firmly in the shadow of the iPhone's gargantuan 41% rough margin on the newest model, but is head and shoulders above a good amount of Android devices out there; this is a premium device, and Google is not only pricing and selling it like one to send a message, but also to make a pretty penny. While this may be baby steps compared the iPhone's 45.5 million sales in a single quarter, it's a step in the right direction for bringing stock Android, Google's vision of it, to the masses.