Analysts have varying opinions about whether Google's Webstore is a failure in the wake of Verizon and Sprint's decisions to nix the Google Nexus One smartphone on their respective networks.
Sprint reignited the theme May 10 when it confirmed it would not support the Android 2.1-based Nexus One on its network. The company told eWEEK it wanted to concentrate its efforts on selling the Android 2.1 HTC EVO 4G this summer.
Sprint's move came two weeks after Verizon Wireless decided it would nudge aside the Nexus One and instead market the HTC Droid Incredible, a device that boasts the same Android 2.1 OS and Qualcomm 1 GHz Snapdragon processor.
But that was before Verizon and Sprint reneged on the pledges to support the device. Now the prevailing water cooler debate is whether or not the Nexus One and Google's Webstore, as the smartphone's sole delivery channel, are failures.
Some experts see the device and its delivery model as casualties of carriers' reluctance to support a device they can't sell through their own retail channels. Verizon and Sprint, in effect, thwarted Google's plans to disrupt the classic carrier distribution model.
Others, such as IDC analyst Ramon Llamas, don't see Google's Webstore as a failure because it's not the end goal where Android is concerned.
"Take a look at other companies who went that route (HP for instance), and you'll see that Google did a great job selling Nexus One units. Did it sell millions of units? No, but it did better than other companies. And, it outlined a route to include carriers eventually.
Google CFO Patrick Pichette said the Nexus One was profitable. Analysts said Google sold 200,000 to 300,000 units of the device, or a fraction of the 1 million-plus Motorola Droid units Verizon sold.
"What consumers want is not to just see the device and learn about it. They also want to experience the device, and that is where carrier/consumer electronics stores/branded stores (think Apple) are vital to selling more units," Llamas added. "Makes you wonder what would have happened if Google had its own retail stores. Besides, selling millions of units was not Google's end game. It was to help champion the Android platform and experience."
Independent analyst Jack Gold echoed Llamas' thoughts, noting that the average life of a phone is only about 9 to 12 months anyway and the Nexus One is getting up there.