Google’s Pixel Phone Plans Sound Fishy

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A taimen is the largest species of fish in the salmon family and is native to rivers in Eurasia and Mongolia. It is also the reported codename Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is using for one of three rumored successors to the Google Pixel smartphone.

The “taimen” may be one of three new Pixel phones due for release this year. The others — codenamed “walleye” and “muskie” — are reported to be 5-inch and 5.5-inch devices, respectively. The size of “taimen” is unknown, but one might safely assume that it would be bigger than either of the other two.

A report Tuesday at Droid-Life confirmed the codenames for “walleye” and “muskie,” and included the possibility of a “taimen” phone.

Google promoted its two Pixel phones — the Pixel and Pixel XL — heavily during the recent holiday season, and investment bank Evercore ISI estimated that the company sold more than 550,000 units in the United States during the fourth quarter of last year. Another estimate, from Monness Crespi Hardt, put worldwide quarterly sales at 1 million units. An initial estimate from Morgan Stanley projected total worldwide sales of 3 million units.

The numbers pale, however, when compared with sales of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, which sold 75 million units in the fourth quarter, or Samsung’s sales of the Galaxy S7, with 9 million unit sales in the phone’s first month of availability.

Still, Google’s sales were good enough, and the critical reception was strong enough for the company to move ahead with a second version of the Pixel phones. There are some issues though. For instance, does Google’s exclusive deal with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) as the only mobile carrier for the Pixel phones put a ceiling on sales? The phones are also available unlocked directly from Google or one of its retail partners, but that’s not the same as having the other three major U.S. carriers on board as well.

For now, with nothing more than rumors to go on, it appears that Google is determined to make yet another push into producing hardware. Can it avoid another Nexus mess? Stay tuned.