When the Nexus One shipped, Google was changing the rules in the mobile phone market in the United States. Google made the Nexus One available only via its Web Site, with or without a plan. I bought my Nexus One on the web and use it with my existing AT&T plan when I am in the US and my existing Vodafone plan when I am home in Hong Kong. Never before in the United States could you just buy your phone from a manufacturer or a retail outlet unlocked and then walk into a carrier with your unlocked phone and buy a plan. (This is how it is done here in Hong Kong and most of Europe.) By making a hot new phone that lots of people want, Google was changing the rules and starting a revolution.
The revolution lasted only 5 months. The carriers fought back: Verizon and Sprint have decided not to support the Nexus One. On Friday Google announced that it is closing the Nexus One web store down. The Nexus One will be still be available but now you will have to buy it from a carrier with a plan. I don’t know if the phones will continue to be unlocked, however, even if they are unlocked, this is a step backwards. Google says that people want to play with the phone first and that is why they are closing down the web store. If that was true, Google would sell the phone in Best Buy and Walmart, the real reason is that the carriers balked.
Google is now in an all out war with Apple and the iPhone, so they need the carriers on their side. Google will soon release a competitor to the iPad on Verizon’s network, so my guess closing the web store was a concession to the carriers.
The carriers win this round. Now it is up to Microsoft and its Zune Phone to change the rules.
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