By Harry McCracken | 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?