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Best Buy's 'Nexus S' a new shift for Google?

Google said it was closing down the Nexus project, but persistent rumors and now a leak at Best Buy could indicate that it's giving the idea another shot.

Best Buy briefly leaked the Nexus S earlier today but has pulled the image from both its site and Google's cache.
Best Buy briefly leaked the Nexus S earlier today but has pulled the image from both its site and Google's cache.
Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

A slip-up at Best Buy could indicate that Google, despite all statements to the contrary, has plans for another Nexus-branded phone.

Phandroid noticed a briefly available link on Best Buy's mobile site this morning offering a teaser for the Nexus S, said to be "pure Google" and available on T-Mobile's network. The image and link didn't last very long, but the magic of Google's own caching technology preserved the error long enough for screenshots to be grabbed left and right

So what exactly is Google planning here? Unsurprisingly, they aren't saying, declining to comment "on the Nexus rumors and speculation." But it's getting a little difficult to understand exactly what Google would like to do with the Nexus concept.

The Nexus One was originally billed as two things: a state-of-the-art phone that would help spur innovation among Android phone makers, and a Web-only distribution strategy that would eventually shift power from carriers to users. Google shut the program down in July after tepid sales, and CEO Eric Schmidt told the Telegraph in an interview that he had informed the board the project was so successful that Google didn't need to make a second phone, which falls squarely into whatever lipstick-on-a-barnyard-animal metaphor you prefer.

However, Google does need to provide some sort of "developer phone" that isn't encumbered by the restrictions that carriers and handset makers put on the distribution of new software releases of Android, so that Android developers can test their applications on new operating system versions as soon as possible. It's possible the Nexus S is merely that, intended for developers, but should consumers want to buy one, Google and Best Buy won't stand in their way.

Speculation has been boiling about a potential Nexus phone for several weeks but nothing definitive regarding the phone or Google's strategy for it has surfaced.