Reflecting Google’s burgeoning device business, parent company Alphabet now lists hardware inventory in its latest quarterly SEC filing (via Bloomberg). With the filing providing data through the end of September, it likely reflects the ramp up for hardware announced at the October 4th event.
Companies list inventory in SEC filings to reflect the risk that comes in directly manufacturing hardware and dealing with a supply line. With the Nexus program, other OEMs shouldered most of the risk manufacturing and managing inventory. While the Q3 2016 filing is the first to list inventory, Google does provide 2015 numbers for comparison.
Likely including Nest hardware, Chromecast, and the Nexus devices, inventory was $491 million at the end of last year. Inventory ending September is $559 million and encompasses hardware in all Alphabet companies, not just Google.
Of course, the filing period was before the event in October or the Pixel going on sale later in the month. The bulk of hardware is just coming out in November, with Google Home’s retail availability today and Daydream View next week.
Bloomberg speculates that the line item is a sign to investors that Google is serious about entering the hardware business. Previous filings had inventory grouped in with the “other assets” category. The report also notes how some analysts are expressing concern that Google’s new interest in hardware — including massive marketing — will dampen profit margins.