Google's approach to selling the Nexus One may have been noble. But it didn't work. Four months after launching a web store for its top of the line smartphone, Google is pulling the plug.

The Nexus One will be available in stores worldwide over the next few months, when Google will kill its e-commerce site. According to the search giant, the world wasn't ready for a wholly digital approach to purchasing cellphones. They certainly weren't ready for the pricetag.

The search giant hoped to evade the strangle hold that telephone carriers have on the cellphone market, selling its smartphone directly through the web. Unfortunately, carriers have gained their stable middle man status by subsidizing hi-tech gadgets. By locking consumers into two-year contracts, they can offer headsets at low prices and make up the difference on monthly charges.

Google opened the web store in an effort to change the ways consumers purchase cellphones. As CNET put it in January:

"What Google is proposing is a business model in which you pick a phone and then separately pick a carrier, all without having to leave your house."

But it didn't quite work out that way. The phone is only available through Verizon and T-Mobile in the US. Anyone who would like to purchase the phone to use with another carrier has to fork over $529 for the priviledge.

Since January, Google has sold about 150,000 handsets straight through its dedicated website. No longer.

Andy Rubin, Google's VP of Engineering, wrote on the company blog:

"As with every innovation, some parts worked better than others. 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, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from."

Once the handset is available in more stores, Google will shutter the Nexus One website. They've already made some progress with carriers. On April 30, Vodafone became Europe's first Nexus One carrier. 

Until a manufacturer can find a way to offer a new smartphone for a drastically reduced retail price, it looks like we'll be waiting awhile for another independent e-commerce approach to mobile.

Image: Google

Meghan Keane

Published 14 May, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (5)

Geoff Andrews

Geoff Andrews, Lead Generation Manager at Kumon Educational UK

I need to hold a phone before I buy. Touch it. Understand it. But I don't care where I buy it. I will never buy a phone from the High Street. I'll waste the time of sales-people but I will buy on my terms.

Google should think about the longevity rather than pull out now.

(The Android platform is awesome)

about 8 years ago


Scott Medlock

I don't know that this is as much a #FAIL as it is the failure of T-Mobile and Verizon. For example, if you have a multi-phone plan on T-Mobile you can't buy the Nexus One online. You have to go online with T-Mobile and figure out you can't split your plan online. Then call them on the phone and walk through the procedure to split the multi-phone plan. Then go back to Google to buy the Nexus One. Painful, and more than a little bit silly. One could blame Google for failing to pressure T-Mobile about this. One could say Google is at fault if they don't realize this. But really, it's T-Mobile's fault that they didn't account for it. And I suspect Verizon is the same. Carriers don't like, want, or see any benefit to their companies with unbundled phones. And with the Nexus One its obvious that they (the carriers) don't really "get it" for selling via Google either.

about 8 years ago


movie reviews

It's good to hear that nexus will be on the store, don't know yet it has come or not but instead of buying through google this sounds really good. It takes lot of procedures to go through via google.

about 8 years ago



I recommend nexus one .. Its nice phone and the 1st phone that had flash player.

about 8 years ago



Google should have targeted markets like India, where people would love to buy Nexus One over iPhone due to the carrier lock. I personally have GoPhone and T-Mobile prepaid sims which allow me to interchange sim for any unlocked phone and Nexus One is the only smart phone that allows this in US now. I am sad that they are pulling out this option from US. Instead of the monthly plan I believe they should have opened up the Prepaid market in US. I am in control of how much I spent on my mobile phone usage. And just to put things in perspective, subscribing to Google Voice and buying a prepaid saves a whole lot of money on your mobile phone bills... and since Google software products are so seamlessly integrated with Android OS, Nexus One really did make sense... Google Should not pull out...

about 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.