Requiem for a phone: Nexus One done at Google

Google's Nexus One is no longer available for sale on the company's site, a week after Google said it had ordered the last shipment.

HTC's Peter Chou, who built the Nexus One for Google's Andy Rubin and Mario Quieroz (left to right) in happier times at the launch of the Nexus One in January.
HTC's Peter Chou, who built the Nexus One for Google's Andy Rubin and Mario Quieroz (left to right) in happier times, at the phone's launch in January. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Google's phone retailing experiment is officially over.

A little more than six months after Google promised to change the way mobile phones were sold and create the "superphone" category, it has officially stopped selling the Nexus One through its Web site. That's not because it actually did change the way mobile phones were sold or blow the competition away with a revolutionary design, but because people didn't buy them and Google stopped ordering new units from HTC.

The Nexus One was born in January amid breathless hype from the tech industry, hailed as the smartphone that might save the world from an Apple-dominated market. It died a quiet death on a gloomy San Francisco summer day, forever a reminder of the limits of Google's ambition even when it has a good idea.

The Nexus One was, and is, an excellent phone, and few regular people will line up to defend the two-year-locked-contract and exclusive-phone system so beloved by the wireless industry. But it turns out that selling phones in a crowded marketplace is hard , especially when people are used to buying them in stores and you can't advertise through conventional channels for fear of alienating your other partners.

Sure, you can still order the Nexus One through wireless carriers in the U.K., Italy, and Australia, among a few other places, but six markets do not represent a healthy ecosystem. Google once again Friday refused to state how many phones it sold during its brief tenure as a phone retailer.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said Google doesn't plan on making any other Nexus devices, having apparently achieved everything it wanted with the Nexus One, despite announcing plans in January to make a family of devices. It's not exactly clear what Schmidt meant by that statement, unless Google really believes that phones like the Evo, the Droid Incredible, and the other Android phones currently in the market would never have been dreamt up by their makers were it not for the Nexus One project, or that some new era of phone purchasing has sprung up entirely unnoticed by, well, everyone.

Google's Nexus One was 6 months old. It is survived by the millions and millions of Google Android-based phones sold by its partners that are the devices putting real competitive pressure on Apple in the smartphone market.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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