On the third day he rose: Nexus One sells out after retail death

Sometimes a stellar product doesn't translate to stellar sales. Google's Nexus One "experiment" was supposed to be revolution in handset marketing. Selling a phone, completely unlocked, to whoever wanted it was to be the way of the future. And Google failed miserably. Coupled with slow sales and only one official channel, Google officially began shutting down its retail program in May, while waiting for stock to deplete until it was officially over this summer.

Having sold only 80,000 units in a period in which iPhone sold 1,000,000; it was obvious as to why Google nixed the plan. Instead, Google decided to sell the handset to strictly developers, directly through the Market. This genius move unveiled only weeks ago has "blown[blew] through the (substantial) initial inventory in almost no time, and they’re back-ordered from HTC, who are doing a pretty good job of managing runaway success amid a worldwide AMOLED shortage." You read that correctly. The Nexus One is sold out.

"Everyone appreciates that it’s important to the platform to get phones in the hands of developers, so we’re working hard on re-stocking the shelves; stand by."

From a lukewarm public reception to a blockbuster developer handset, Nexus One has rolled the stone away and gained a new life. As evidenced by Android Developers, there seems to be no plans to end production of the Nexus One just yet; especially not with a consistently expanding base of developers creating magic with a solid yet underrated handset.

Img Credit: Feelandroid

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The average person is probably not going to even know about this phone let alone import it from the US when they can just walk into a high street store and pick up an iPhone or HTC Desire with the sim and contract details already sorted out for them.

A glimpse at the US Mobile Phone market for our European friends. There are 4 major carriers in the US. In order of market share, they are:

-Verizon Wireless (CDMA)
-AT&T (GSM)
-Sprint (CDMA)
-T-mobile (GSM)

As an initial matter, an "unlocked" GSM phone as you know it will never work on a CDMA carrier. The technologies are flat not compatible - different hardware radios are needed. So right there, Nexus One loses over half of the market. CDMA doesn't really support "unlocked" phones, as there are no SIM Cards - the phone itself is tied to the network. It is theoretically possible to make a CDMA phone that could be "registered" to either Verizon or Sprint, but I've not seen it done.

Now GSM. Unlike in Europe, where all carriers use the same bands, in the US, T-mobile and AT&T use different bands. What this means is that a phone designed for AT&T can get 3G ONLY on AT&T. If unlocked, it could get EDGE on T-mobile, but not 3G. Again, this is not a locking issue, it is a hardware/compatibility issues. The reverse is also true - 3G on TMo, means EDGE only on AT&T.

So, in reality, the best an "unlocked" phone in the European sense can do in the US is to have 3G on one network, EDGE on a second, and that's it. Yes, it sucks.

For all intents and purposes, in the US, due to pure hardware/network compatibility issues, a given phone will only ever be functional on a single network. Basically, unlocked phones don't really exist here. That's why Google's choice of this distribution channel made little sense. Most people pick a carrier based on coverage and price, then a phone. Had Google released a CDMA version of Nexus One on Sprint and Verizon, and an AT&T GSM version on AT&T, it would have sold great.

As it is, the only network that "fully" supported Nexus One was TMo, which is also the smallest in the US.

I thought the Nexus One came out on Verizon, Sprint and AT&T as well? Albeit, sometime after it was released on T-Mobile.

I think the main problem was that you had to buy it through Google's website, hence most people wouldn't have known about it.

/- Razorfold said,
I thought the Nexus One came out on Verizon, Sprint and AT&T as well? Albeit, sometime after it was released on T-Mobile.

I think the main problem was that you had to buy it through Google's website, hence most people wouldn't have known about it.


They released an AT&T compatible one in March. Verizon and Sprint versions got canceled.

"Selling a phone, completely unlocked, to whoever wanted it" - not true. I could not buy it in my country... So I had to wait and buy HTC Desire. Making it available only in US, UK and a few more countries was a mistake in my opinion.

"where unprofessional journalism looks better" ^^ Drunken Beard

With regards to the Nexus One. I have one, I love it, it's solid, powerful and with the Cyanogen Mod blows all stock phones out of the water. I'm sure I'd be just as happy with a Desire, HD2, Evo etc and be singing their praises - Android is definitely a great base.

Specifically the article - selling out all stock. Great! Where's the figures though. Did they have 3 in stock and they sold out of them? Figures needede Neowin!

I have no problem with Android or the Nexus One but "creating magic with a solid yet underrated handset" is far from being professional journalism.

Google's Nexus One "experiment" was supposed to be revolution in handset marketing. Selling a phone, completely unlocked, to whoever wanted it was to be the way of the future.

Google is far from being the first company to do this though. Motorola has done this for ages.

roadwarrior said,

Google is far from being the first company to do this though. Motorola has done this for ages.

Every manufacturer has - outside the US, at least. The difference with the Nexus was that it was the primary sales channel.

It's sold online exclusively with almost no marketing... what do you expect... lol.
Most people still prefer going to carriers to pick their phone. If google want to change that then they need to promote it.

The phone itself is very nice, I got mine the same day it was released.

Nexus one miserably failed mainly because other Android cellphones, specifically Motorola and HTC.

For example, Motorola Droid is cheap than Nexus One and it included a physic keyboard.

Magallanes said,
Nexus one miserably failed mainly because other Android cellphones, specifically Motorola and HTC.

So was the original not a HTC? As the current one is made by HTC...

Magallanes said,
Nexus one miserably failed mainly because other Android cellphones, specifically Motorola and HTC.

For example, Motorola Droid is cheap than Nexus One and it included a physic keyboard.


HTC made the Nexus One

Nexus One is the top Android mobile phone. Very powerful hardware for not so huge price. Although it suffers from screen issues it still is my best phone ever.
I bought it for ... updates. This one have and looks like still will have for some time updates in first place, better that than wait months (or years) for next version of Android.
If you can - buy it new.

SHADOW-XIII said,
Nexus One is the top Android mobile phone. Very powerful hardware for not so huge price. Although it suffers from screen issues it still is my best phone ever.
I bought it for ... updates. This one have and looks like still will have for some time updates in first place, better that than wait months (or years) for next version of Android.
If you can - buy it new.

The Nexus One is a great phone, but my HD2 with Android beats it! <3

SHADOW-XIII said,
Nexus One is the top Android mobile phone. Very powerful hardware for not so huge price. Although it suffers from screen issues it still is my best phone ever.
I bought it for ... updates. This one have and looks like still will have for some time updates in first place, better that than wait months (or years) for next version of Android.
If you can - buy it new.

HTC Desire > Nexus One

Tony. said,

The Nexus One is a great phone, but my HD2 with Android beats it! <3

Pretty sure the upcoming Samsung Epic 4G beats it to a pulp, and the HTC EVO 4G does as well minus the AMOLED screen. Still has a nice screen, though, and with 4G and every other feature above and beyond, it beats the Nexus One.

Only reason to go for Nexus One at this point is that it ships unlocked and I believe with special developers mode out of the box (basically full root access?).

The phone didn't sell well because it was T-Mobile only (or AT&T if you wanted to spend $500), not because the phone or the market for it was crap.

spacer said,
The phone didn't sell well because it was T-Mobile only (or AT&T if you wanted to spend $500), not because the phone or the market for it was crap.

I bought mine unlocked, direct from Google. Granted I'm in the UK but I thought you could do the same in the US.

M2Ys4U said,

I bought mine unlocked, direct from Google. Granted I'm in the UK but I thought you could do the same in the US.

The problem was that it couldn't run on the AT&T network, and i do believe a few other networks as well, so they had to make a version for those networks.

spacer said,
The phone didn't sell well because it was T-Mobile only (or AT&T if you wanted to spend $500), not because the phone or the market for it was crap.

"Selling a phone, completely unlocked"

In the US, AT&T and T-Mobile, while both GSM carriers, use different frequencies for some of the 3G bands, so handsets are not 100% compatible between the two. If I'm not mistaken, T-Mobile here uses the same frequencies as in Europe and Asia, which is why it was easier to market the T-Mobile version of the G1.

You can blame our incompetent FCC for the idiotic situation.

JustinN said,

"Selling a phone, completely unlocked"

<snipped-Laura> spacer is correct. Yes they sold the phone unlocked, 3G is obviously standard without saying on a smartphone, and at first the Nexus One models they sold ONLY worked on 3G for T-Mobiles bands, rendering it exclusive to T-Mobile in practicality. A smartphone is literally useless without 3G.

I was going to purchase one off Ebay after they stopped selling them online, but realized that it's probably pretty easy to get screwed over and sold the T Mobile version when I need the AT&T version for Rogers in Canada, especially since it would only make sense that far more T Mobile ones were produced. So I just went with the only other phone shipping with a stock version of Android 2.1, the Acer Liquid E, rooted and running a custom ROM and loving Android since.

Edited by Laura, Aug 23 2010, 8:25am :