Google to sell unlocked Nexus One to registered developers

After Google closed the doors on its Nexus One retail venture, the critically acclaimed but financially underwhelming phone is being resurrected phoenix-style as an unlocked handset for direct sale to registered developers, according to the Android developers blog. Of course, the phone can be tied to a service provider after purchase, but this gives developers a chance to test and develop on a phone that ranks with the best of the Android handsets out of the box. Previously, the HTC G1 was the direct sale phone that was offered to developers. As the G1 slowly but steadily becomes obsolete, developers see this as very welcome news.

You will have to pay the price, however. The phone is being offered through Google for $529. The G1 was offered unlocked for $399.  It will come pre-loaded with Android 2.1, but will get the OTA update to 2.2 once you turn on the phone.

The Nexus One was generally well-received by reviewers and stayed in demand partly due to timely upgrades from Google. When other manufacturers had to shoehorn new versions of the Android OS into their own proprietary software (i.e. Sense and Motoblur), Nexus One owners were able to receive updates immediately. There were a few different reasons why the phone didn’t perform financially as expected, but some of the stand-out reasons were lack of customer support, an awkward partnership with T-Mobile that made upgrading from an older phone a not-so-simple process, and competition from other best-in-class phones released in the same time frame. As Google struggle to keep alive the Nexus brand, it will be interesting to see if rumors about the Nexus Two will really pan out. 

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Excluding the price, the second main problem with Nexus One is the lack of physical keyboard and it is a must for developers.

Two reasons it failed so spectacularly (IMO):

1) As everyone else has said, the business model was all wrong. They tried to go against the model which consumers have got used to over the last couple of decades - buying their phone either directly from the carrier or from a shop where they can go and see it before purchase. Geeks would quite happily buy it from Google, but realistically it's a small market.

2) In Europe at least, the existence of the Desire was its biggest problem. When a Nexus One was £569 and an unlocked, unbranded Desire was £399, it really was a no-brainer. I'd rather have had the instant updates and stock software, but that price differential could not be ignored.

Google still hasn't said anything officially about the touch issues nearly all Nexus One devices suffer from. It's probably more of a problem than iPhone 4's antenna attenuation problem, so too bad media didn't lynch Google, then they might have fixed it.

$299 would truthfully be too low a price for something like this UNSUBSIDIZED. I would buy one now if it were $400 or lower, but at $530, it's too high for me.

If it had the bands for the American data networks, I'd consider it at the $530 price, but as either a TMO or AT&T phone without the option to use it on both (come on edge doesn't count as "using it" on both), it's not really worth the investment.

Hell, I don't plan on ever going to AT&T, but I would like to know that I could dump tmo in a heartbeat (isn't that one of the incentives of having an unlocked phone?) if the need ever arises. Since I can't do that, it's really not worth buying unsubsidized imho.

tjhart85 said,
$299 would truthfully be too low a price for something like this UNSUBSIDIZED. I would buy one now if it were $400 or lower, but at $530, it's too high for me.

If it had the bands for the American data networks, I'd consider it at the $530 price, but as either a TMO or AT&T phone without the option to use it on both (come on edge doesn't count as "using it" on both), it's not really worth the investment.

Hell, I don't plan on ever going to AT&T, but I would like to know that I could dump tmo in a heartbeat (isn't that one of the incentives of having an unlocked phone?) if the need ever arises. Since I can't do that, it's really not worth buying unsubsidized imho.

why would $299 be too low? there are serveral devices that have a lot of the functionality of these 'smartphones' with similar formfactor and more yet cost the same or less without any type of subsidization. take a look at some of the archos android based media devices and tablets, and a lot of the mp3 players out there selling for $150-200 price range from Microsft and Creative...

nullie said,
why would $299 be too low? there are serveral devices that have a lot of the functionality of these 'smartphones' with similar formfactor and more yet cost the same or less without any type of subsidization. take a look at some of the archos android based media devices and tablets, and a lot of the mp3 players out there selling for $150-200 price range from Microsft and Creative...

It's not too low. But after years of the cell phone companies playing their games any price in the hundreds that doesn't start with a 5, 6 or 7 sounds appealing. Haha

NeoandGeo said,

It's not too low. But after years of the cell phone companies playing their games any price in the hundreds that doesn't start with a 5, 6 or 7 sounds appealing. Haha

yeah what I see from people is that no one stands up to price hikes or poor service and everyone expects things to be done for the companies or specifically the few investors that make bank from it, ie 'privatize it and let someone make a profit off it' and 'omg why ever expect lower prices or that a company provide a reliable or well built-out modern service / technology' - everybody is always out there to justify or think there's reason to expect less for themselves and the people. They don't get that the only reason for these companies existing should be to provide the people with what it (and as Americans you'd think everyone would expect the best) needs to function and prosper, same for the government..

Edited by nullie, Aug 6 2010, 2:19am :

$529 is a large ripoff. $299 would have been appropriate.

But I suppose a fair price that still makes a great profit would disrupt the price controlling and locking customers into contracts scheme the cell phone overlords cling to.

david said,
Unlocked.. that means I can use it on Verizon right? Sorry about my stupidity. =)

Just because a phone is unlocked doesn't mean that it can work on all carriers. Verizon uses CDMA, and if I'm not mistaken, the Nexus One is a GSM phone. That means it won't work on anything other than AT&T or T-Mobile in the US.

roadwarrior said,

Just because a phone is unlocked doesn't mean that it can work on all carriers. Verizon uses CDMA, and if I'm not mistaken, the Nexus One is a GSM phone. That means it won't work on anything other than AT&T or T-Mobile in the US.

Why is that? In the UK all carriers use the same technology.

david said,
Unlocked.. that means I can use it on Verizon right? Sorry about my stupidity. =)

Not really, as its not CDMA. Only exists GSM, compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Someone please correct me if wrong.

Mr.Ed

thealexweb said,

Why is that? In the UK all carriers use the same technology.

Not just the UK, almost THE ENTIRE WORLD uses GSM. In the US operators were allowed to do whatever they wanted, I suppose for competition reasons... Anyway it didn't really work out it just made the US market less attractive to manufacturers than it should be. That's why they have bad phones.
And now CDMA has to die a VERY slow and painful death. (sorry for my rant)

Mr.ed said,

Not really, as its not CDMA. Only exists GSM, compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Someone please correct me if wrong.

Mr.Ed

I'm pretty sure they only sell the tmo version now.

thealexweb said,

Why is that? In the UK all carriers use the same technology.

In the US, only AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM (which is used elsewhere in the world), and even they they don't use all of the same frequencies. Verizon, Sprint, and some other regional carriers use CDMA.

mad_onion said,

Not just the UK, almost THE ENTIRE WORLD uses GSM. In the US operators were allowed to do whatever they wanted, I suppose for competition reasons... Anyway it didn't really work out it just made the US market less attractive to manufacturers than it should be. That's why they have bad phones.
And now CDMA has to die a VERY slow and painful death. (sorry for my rant)


Rant away, to the rest of the world the US "tele-scene" is ridicolous.
I mean, you have to choose carrier - THEN choose phone?
What kinda competition is that?
You choose carrier, and you choose your phone.
One does not have to depend on the other.
Sorry for my rant.

Alastyr said,

Rant away, to the rest of the world the US "tele-scene" is ridicolous.
I mean, you have to choose carrier - THEN choose phone?
What kinda competition is that?
You choose carrier, and you choose your phone.
One does not have to depend on the other.
Sorry for my rant.
To the US the US tele scene is ridiculous too. Well, to those of us who know anything about phones that is. The rest have no idea there's a better way to do it. And as long as the carriers can maintain that they have nothing to worry about.

mad_onion said,

Not just the UK, almost THE ENTIRE WORLD uses GSM. In the US operators were allowed to do whatever they wanted, I suppose for competition reasons... Anyway it didn't really work out it just made the US market less attractive to manufacturers than it should be. That's why they have bad phones.
And now CDMA has to die a VERY slow and painful death. (sorry for my rant)

CDMA is also worldwide, it's just nonexistant in most of western europe.

http://www.cdg.org/worldwide/index.asp <-- Worldwide CDMA coverage maps.

I wonder if the AT&T band will still be offered. I never broke down and got one. My girlfriend did the day before they sold out. It is a great device. I wish the distribution method Google had setup would have worked better. I prefer it.