Google Nexus One online sale scrapped

Google has admitted defeat in the bold strategy of selling the Nexus One direct to customers. Back to the networks and lengthy contracts then

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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It was fun while it lasted. Google has scrapped the direct online sale of the Nexus One. The bold new idea for selling mobile phones failed to set the world on fire, so the Nexus One will only be available from traditional outlets in the future.

Andy Rubin, Google's engineering VP, announced the news in an official blog post. The Nexus One had two goals, he wrote, "to introduce a beacon of innovation among Android handsets, and to make it quick and easy for people to buy an Android phone." The first was successful -- CNET UK called it the "the iPhone killer you've been waiting for" and gave it an Editors' Choice award -- but the second not so much. The Nexus One Web store has "remained a niche channel for early adopters," Rubin admitted.

The advantage of buying direct is you get a top-end handset without being forced to go with whatever network the phone is tied to. That means you can choose from any deal you like, rather than being locked into expensive or lengthy contracts. But buying from the Web store meant paying a lot up front and taking a punt on a phone you'd never handled in the flesh -- especially risky as it involved buying from the US.

Google acknowledges that customers want "hands-on experience before buying", and concedes that users "also want a wide range of service plans to chose from". We imagine the phone networks feel the same, as direct sale threatens their ability to use premium phones to lock users into long-term contracts.

Let's hope that wide range of options happens soon, because for now the Nexus One is only available through Vodafone, and only on 18-month or two-year contracts. So this is what the failure of direct sales leaves us with. Brilliant. Google has committed to increasing the number of Nexus Ones in the marketplace, so fingers crossed someone offers it on a shorter contract.

Did you buy a Nexus One from Google's Web store? How did that work out for you? Stick your thoughts in the comments, whether you're a fan of the networks or if you'd be happy never sitting foot in a phone shop ever again.