Google will no longer sell Nexus One smartphones online

17 May 2010

Just four months in and Google is to shut down its Nexus One smartphone web store and will instead take on the tried and trusted route most mobile makers take of selling devices through network partners.

The news comes just weeks after it emerged that Vodafone will commence selling the Nexus One device in Europe.

Andy Rubin, vice-president of engineering at Google, explained that the search giant is happy with the adoption of Android “in general” but the web store for the device has not performed as well as expected. In traditional Google fashion, if it doesn’t work, kill it.

But Google has plenty to be pleased about. The Android OS last week emerged as the No 2 mobile operating system in the US, overtaking the iPhone, and according to CEO Eric Schmidt, Android-based devices are selling in excess of 60,000 a day worldwide.

“We launched Nexus One in January with two goals in mind: to introduce a beacon of innovation among Android handsets, and to make it quick and easy for people to buy an Android phone,” Rubin said on Google’s blog.

“We’re very happy with the adoption of Android in general, and the innovation delivered through Nexus One. Already, a lot of the innovation that went into creating Nexus One has found its way into numerous Android handsets, like the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint and the Verizon Droid Incredible by HTC.

“But, as with every innovation, some parts worked better than others. While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not.

“It has remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to choose from,” Rubin admitted.

The European way

Rubin said that Google is now planning to make the Nexus One available in more countries and will focus on the European model of signing up partners to offer the device through existing retail stores.

“We’ll shift to a similar model globally. Once we have increased the availability of Nexus One devices in stores, we’ll stop selling handsets via the web store, and will instead use it as an online store window to showcase a variety of Android phones available globally.

“Innovation requires constant iteration. We believe that the changes we’re announcing today will help get more phones to more people more quickly, which is good for the entire Android ecosystem: users, partners and also Google,” Rubin said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Google Nexus One smartphone

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years