Google likes to cut out the middle man? Since when? It's entire business model is based on triangular relationships: search is bringing visitors to advertisers, Android been 100% partner-based since it's beginning.
It very much remains to be seen if the Pixel phones will be any more successful than the Pixel laptops. I give them h a 20% chance of surviving four years. Launching high end phones into a saturated market with no distribution experience, with enormous capacity pressure from manufacturers who can make a lot more phones they can sell, and one of the weaker OEMs who may have been expected to drop out, helping over capacity, has in fact just been thrown a lifeline. This won't even rate in India and SE Asia, and something so cloud dependent as Google's added-value software won't even launch in China. It seems like madness.