Google, which broke mobile industry practice last year by offering the Nexus One smartphone for sale exclusively on its Website, has received its last shipment of the device for online sale.
Once the fresh inventory is sold out, the Nexus One won’t be available anymore from Google, though it will still be sold by some mobile operator partners, according to a post on the official Nexus One blog on Friday.
The phone will still be sold by some carrier partners, including Vodafone in Europe and KT in South Korea, and Google will continue to provide support for existing devices, the blog post said. Developers will still be able to buy a Nexus One by logging into Google’s Android Market Publisher site and going through a partner company, Google said.
Google introduced the Nexus One on Jan. 5, calling it a showcase for the Android software it was developing. Made in close partnership with Taiwan-based hardware vendor HTC, it featured a 3.7-inch OLED display, a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the Android 2.1 operating system.
But possibly the most innovative thing about the Nexus One was how it was to be sold. Google offered it unlocked for $530 or with a T-Mobile USA service contract for $179. Either way, customers could only buy it online, without being able to touch or try out the phone in a store. They had to have a Google login and use Google Checkout to buy the Nexus One.
Soon after the phone went on sale, Google’s support forums were hit with numerous complaints from buyers who said they hadn’t been able to get prompt assistance from Google, T-Mobile or HTC when they had problems with the phone. Complaints also cropped up about the cost of getting out of the T-Mobile contract early. The terms of service listed early termination fees imposed by both Google and the carrier, adding up to as much as $550. In the first weeks after the introduction, Google began responding to more customer complaints, and the company later reduced its termination fee.
Versions of the Nexus One also became available for other mobile operators, including AT&T, Vodafone and South Korea’s KT. But on May 14, Google said it would shut down the e-commerce functions of the Nexus One site because sales had fallen short of expectations. “It’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone,” and more service plan options, Google Vice President Andy Rubin wrote in a blog post then. The company said it would expand retail availability of the phone through partners.