Google has canceled its plans to let Verizon Wireless service its Google Nexus One smartphone, a move that could hurt sales of the first device to offer the Google Android 2.1 operating system.
Google launched the Nexus One Jan. 5, selling it solely through its online Webstore unlocked for $529 or $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile. Google officials promised the Nexus One would be available on Verizon in the United States and Vodafone in the United Kingdom this spring.
Vodafone said April 26 it will make the Nexus One available in the U.K. April 30 for free to customers who sign up for a two-year contract for 35 pounds ($54) per month. Users can preorder the Nexus One here.
However, Verizon customers expecting the Nexus One to arrive on the leading U.S. wireless carrier's network got a rude shock. Google will not offer the Nexus One with Verizon. This Google blog post points users to Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible, which the company is rolling out across the country April 29.
Google referred to the Incredible as a "powerful new Android phone and a cousin of the Nexus One that is similarly feature-packed." Indeed, the Incredible also runs the Android 2.1 OS, which includes pinch-to-zoom browsing and speech-to-text input capabilities.
The device also leverages the 3.7-inch AMOLED 480-by-800 WVGA display with the speedy processing power of the Nexus One, whose 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor renders Web pages more quickly than almost any phone on the market.
Verizon referred all questions about this move to Google. A Google spokesperson told eWEEK:
"We won't be selling a Nexus One with Verizon, and this is a reflection of the amazing innovation happening across the open Android ecosystem. Verizon Wireless customers who want an Android phone with the power of the Nexus One can get the Droid Incredible by HTC."
The spokesperson declined to go into detail about why the Nexus One was nixed from its road map for Verizon.
When it launched Jan. 5, the Nexus One impressed users with its speed but concerned financial analysts. Google was roundly criticized for selling the device through its own channel when it had no experience going to market with hardware.
T-Mobile was initially plagued by 3G connectivity issues, and consumers complained about the lack of multitouch capability. Both issues were resolved in February.
Google CFO Patrick Pichette described the Nexus One as profitable for the company. Analysts believe Google has sold between 200,000 and 250,000 Nexus One devices, compared with more than 1 million of the Motorola Droid devices sold by Verizon.
With more than 90 million users in the United States, Verizon could have provided a nice boost to Nexus One sales. Instead, it looks as though the Incredible will be the recipient of those sales on Verizon.