Saturday, May 15, 2010

Google closing the Nexus One online store

Seems the Google web store set up in early January to sell the Nexus One is closing down.
A blog post by Google's Nexus One board on the 26th April, stated that

on April 30th Vodafone will start selling Nexus One in their UK stores, online, and over the phone. Soon after, they will also begin selling Nexus One in France (SFR), Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

No mention of Australia :|
In hindsight, this post acknowledged what many had already said about the online order process and lack of the 'try before you buy' model of selling a product.
The official Google blog has now confirmed in their latest post, that this is indeed one of the main reasons the web store has not performed as well as expected.

While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not. It’s remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone

I suspect another reason for the slow sales was the exclusion of most of the world from being able to purchase the Nexus One.
The post then went on to say...

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.

Depending on whether carriers give customers the option to purchase the phone outright without contract as well as with a contract makes me unsure whether this is just bad news for the web store, or bad news for everyone.
After a quick look at the Vodafone site in Europe, I can't seem to find the option to buy the Nexus One outright. (but it was only a quick look, I could be wrong)

So is this the end of been able to purchase an unlocked/no contract Nexus One (at least initially)?
I also wonder if carriers are going to start loading (and locking) their crapware on top of Android... and if they do, will it delay any OTA (over the air) updates like HTC's Sense does..
I hope not.
With the store confirmed as closing in the near future as well as the pending release of Android 2.2 (AKA Froyo) which is expected to make vast improvements to Androids performance and features, I wonder if the Google web store's activity picks up with a final rush of people wanting to purchase a Nexus One without being tied to a contract!

In all honesty, I have a feeling that this may have been Google's plan all along. Which in turn means I disagree with the reports that claim the web store was a failure.
I think it succeeded in its objective, which was to give people (especially those in America) a taste of an "open/unlocked" phone, without stepping on too many toes (IE: not competing with the manufactures who have adopted Android and the carriers who do deals with those manufactures)

Unlike here in Australia, having a phone that will work (without rooting or jail breaking) on different networks just by swapping out the SIM seems to be a pretty rare thing in the USA (correct me if I'm wrong).
The Nexus One does it well, doesn't have any carriers crapwear installed, gets updates sooner because there is no crapware, and is easily hackable.

Even if not too many stores start selling it, there's still plenty of them already out there. If owners, or even friends of N1 owners, see, appreciate and understand these benefits, they may want the same advantages in their next phone, then maybe demand will start to shift the market in a more open/unlocked direction...
Sure there will always be subsidized contracts, but the choice of buying "outright" not tied to a carrier or contract, may become more of a common option.


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