Sprint Bails on Google Nexus One, Joining Verizon

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-10

Sprint May 10 confirmed it will not support Google's Nexus One smartphone on its network, joining Verizon Wireless as the second major U.S. wireless phone operator to give up on the Android-based device.

A Sprint spokesperson told eWEEK the Nexus One won't be coming to its 3G wireless network because the company is throwing its muscle into the HTC EVO 4G, the first smartphone based on 4G Wi-Max network run by Sprint and Clearwire.

Sprint's decision to bail on the Nexus One comes two weeks after Google said the Nexus One would not be offered on Verizon's network. Google began pointing visitors to its Webstore to the HTC Droid Incredible from Verizon.

The Nexus One has been cannibalized by the Droid Incredible and HTC EVO 4G, both more advanced smartphones running the Android 2.1 operating system, but with other perks and features that make it a step up from the original Android 2.1 device.

For example, the Incredible boasts the HTC Sense user interface and an 8-megapixel camera; the EVO 4G should hold some speed advantages over 3G units such as the Nexus One.  

Google and Sprint pointed to innovation as the reason for the sublimation of the Nexus One, but the smartphone isn't helped by the fact that Google sells the device solely through its Webstore.  

Google began selling the Nexus One unlocked for $529 or for $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile in the United States Jan. 5 from that Webstore, a move to supplant carriers as the middlemen to bring the device to the market.

At the time, Google officials said the smartphone would be coming to Verizon and Vodafone in the spring. Sprint stoked the Nexus One fires March 17 when it issued a press release pledging to support the Nexus One. The device launched on Vodafone's network April 30.

When Verizon decided to cancel the Nexus One, media and analysts proclaimed the Webstore model a failure for Google, arguing that carriers were backing away from the Nexus One because they viewed it as competition to their own smartphone sales channels.

Sprint's decision to back off the device today lends more weight to this argument, summed up well here by Business Insider.

With Sprint joining Verizon as the latest carrier to give up on the Nexus One, it is unlikely the device will find much more traction in the United States, supported on the smallest wireless network in T-Mobile.

Google CFO Patrick Pichette said April 15 the Nexus One was profitable and analysts estimated the company sold between 250,000 and 300,000 units of the device. That makes the device successful to a degree, even if it's only a fraction of the one million-plus Verizon sold of the Motorola Droid.  

Android on the whole has nothing to worry about as a platform.

With roughly three dozen Android devices saturating the market, the OS is taking share from Apple's iPhone. NPD said Android posted 28 percent market share in the first quarter, beating iPhone's 21 percent.

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