The Verizon Nexus One is Vaporous–and That's Okay

By  |  Monday, April 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Ever since Google announced back in January that it would be selling be a Verizon Wireless-compatible Nexus One in the spring, I’ve known people who planned their whole smartphone-buying strategy around that fact. As of January, the Nexus One was the hottest Android handset on the market, and plenty of folks swear by Verizon. It sounded like a match made in heaven–or at least a potentially attractive combination,

Well, spring has sprung, and it sounds like the Verizon Nexus turned out to be DBA (Dead Before Arrival): Bloomberg is reporting that the handset has been scrapped. It’s not entirely clear why–the story begins by saying that Verizon “retreated” from being involved with the Nexus One, but then it quotes a Google spokesperson saying that Google decided to skip it because of “amazing innovation happening across the open Android ecosystem,” and a Verizon spokesperson who seems to say that the carrier is still interested. Maybe it was a mutual decision.

In any event, it’s no biggie. Verizon has already launched the Droid Incredible, a well-reviewed phone that’s essentially the Nexus One only more so. And for all Google’s talk of changing the way people buy phones, it remains unclear what the benefit is of getting your phone from Google rather than a carrier–especially in the case of Verizon, since there’s no such thing as a Verizon-compatible phone that’s unlocked and able to work on other networks. The Verizon Nexus One was going to be a Verizon Nexus One, even if it was Google doing the order fulfillment.

In other words: If you’ve been salivating over the Verizon Nexus One since January, don’t mope–buy a Incredible. You’ll probably be happier than if the Nexus One had come out.

In retrospect, the whole idea of announcing the Verizon Nexus One months in advance was more than a tad goofy. The Android platform is evolving at such a dizzying pace that even handsets that ship immediately upon announcement are aging prematurely. It was all but certain from the get-go that Verizon would have access to cooler Android handsets before the Verizon Nexus showed up. January’s hot phone stood every chance of becoming April’s kinda-superfluous phone.

So why did Google and Verizon pre-announce the phone at all? I dunno–waving it out there probably discouraged some interested consumers from buying the T-Mobile Nexus One, and others from buying Verizon handsets that were available. And any consumer that made plans based on the impending arrival of the Verizon model was wasting his or her time.

I still like the idea of some outsider barging into the wireless phone industry and forcibly reinventing it in a more consumer-friendly fashion. I want more choice, better customer service, and fewer strings attached. So far, however, Google hasn’t figured out how to make anything but the tiniest of splashes. I wonder whether it’ll come back to this challenge–or whether the Nexus One will prove to have been a non-terribly-exciting experiment?



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7 Comments For This Post

  1. davezatz Says:

    I liked the Nexus One for it’s metal styling and noise cancelling mic. Still hope it makes an appearance on Sprint. Although now we’re hearing the Incredible and EVO touchscreen is more advanced. Hm.

  2. Josh Says:

    I think it does matter. While the Incredible is a fine piece of hardware, I think it speaks volumes about Android that the most user-facing portion of the platform — the UI — has been completely replaced with a proprietary HTC creation. Sense looks cool, but it isn’t Android, and the fragmentation continues.

  3. IcyFog Says:

    I think I’ll just wait for the next iPhone.

  4. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > As of January, the Nexus One was the hottest Android
    > handset on the market

    It was hottest as in newest, and it has some hot-rodded hardware, but the Verizon Droid still outsold it, though.

    > that the [Nexus One on Verizon] has been scrapped. It’s
    > not entirely clear why

    Because Nexus One sales have been amazingly low. Like unbelievably low. The whole time Nexus One has been out, it did not sell a week’s worth of iPhones. In spite of having huge pre-launch hype and ads on Something like 1/3rd of all Nexus Ones are run by Google employees.

    > the Droid Incredible, a well-reviewed phone that’s
    > essentially the Nexus One only more so

    With an entirely different UI. And not necessarily running the same apps.

    > I still like the idea of some outsider barging
    > into the wireless phone industry and forcibly
    > reinventing it in a more consumer-friendly fashion.

    Me, too. It was great when Apple did that in 2007 with iPhone and again in 2010 with iPad. The consumer-friendly reinvention is done. A smartphone is as easy to buy as an iPod. There’s a network of consumer-focused stores all over the world where you can buy a smartphone and get easy, free, in-person support.

    The idea that Google, a company made up almost entirely of PhD engineers, is going to out-consumer Apple is crazy.

    And Google is copying, not reinventing. They copied Windows Mobile, down to using the same phones, the lack of updates for existing phones, the baby apps, the app platform fragmentation, and even the viruses. And they copied iPhone, totally changing their UI after iPhone shipped, and selling the phones direct, which is what Apple has been doing all along, except with a network of consumer-focused stores with free support, not “send us an email and we’ll get back to you in 3 days.”

    So much of the hype around Android is completely imaginary. From 2007 to 2008 Android was 100% myth, and many people expected Google to out-iPhone iPhone with a “gPhone”. But they did not. They out-Windows Mobiled Windows Mobile instead with Android. But the hype has not adjusted, and is still based on the gPhone myth.

    Further, if you exclude the proprietary US carriers (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) then Android is non-existent. Those carriers are like a little island in a vast ocean of a global communications network. How can you change the wireless industry from there? That is also the most consumer-unfriendly part of wireless phones, with no SIMS, they vendor lock you into the phone. And that island is the one place there’s no iPhone. If Apple does a CDMA iPhone this year, as is rumored to be coming in September, that would be a phone coming into Verizon and Sprint that outsells Android phones by 10:1 and more. Sprint already sells iPad-with-Wi-Fi cases with a pocket for their “4G hotspot”

    The hype has just got to come down to earth at some point. Say something about actual Android, not hype-Android. For example, anyone who uses Android should be at Google’s gates with pitchforks demanding a C application platform with no fragmentation. Until you have that, you’re not even really competing with iPhone, never mind overtaking iPhone to become the dominant phone system. Almost all of the world’s native app code is in C and is easy to bring up on iPhone, but can’t run at all on Android. That’s why there are whole missing categories of apps on Android. That’s why it’s so hard to port a successful iPhone app to Android. That’s why the console games have not appeared on Android. As long as iPhone is the only phone with C apps, it will continue to dominate.

  5. Jeff Yablon Says:

    Pretty fishy.

    Read here for my spin:

    Essentially, combining this and the fact that a few days ago Google announced the end of their plans for any engineering improvements to the Nexus One device I believe Google never really planned to be in the phone business “for real”.

  6. john schneider Says:

    I have a Droid and a Nexus and the Nexus is not a good phone, period. The Droid is better in every way but one, it’s not as sexy looking and as sleek. Don’t buy that noise canceling mic or other crapola about how good the screen is. It’s fast but so is the Droid. Value for $$, pick the droid. It’s no surprise its not selling well, they have a LONG way to go before it’s close to being of the quality of an iPhone.

  7. IcyFog Says: