Here lies the Google Nexus One: 2010-2010

Six months after its debut, Google's Nexus One handset is kaput -- so much for Google revolutionizing the wireless market

The Nexus One is dead, Jim.

In a terse, two-paragraph blog post quietly published on Apple iPhone Bumper Day, Google admitted the last Nexus One has left the building:

Earlier this year, we announced that we will be closing the Nexus One web store. This week we received our last shipment of Nexus One phones. Once we sell these devices, the Nexus One will no longer be available online from Google. Customer support will still be available for current Nexus One customers. And Nexus One will continue to be sold by partners including Vodafone in Europe, KT in Korea, and possibly others based on local market conditions.

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Now cast your memory back to that day in January, when Google rolled out its new groundbreaking, magical, revolutionary, blah blah blah handset. At the time, I thought the blog reports about the upcoming Google phone were nuts. Why on earth would Google bother to a) make its own handset, thus alienating all of its Android OEM partners, or ii) sell the phones directly to consumers, completely ticking off its carrier partners?

Turns out the bloggers were right (apologies for doubting you, guys) and it was Google that was nuts. Sure, the notion that Google had the cash and the cojones to free us from the headlock U.S. wireless carriers have us in was deeply attractive. As I wrote at the time....

What Google is driving at, of course, is a world where cell phones (and really, that name is now wholly outdated) are sold the way personal computers have always been sold: unencumbered by a commitment to a single provider. In other words, no more lock-in -- just pick your phone, choose your carrier, and select your plan, in that order. Theoretically at least, carriers would then have to actually compete for your dollars, thus giving them a greater incentive to provide higher-quality service than they do now.

It turns out that if you've never sold anything directly to consumers before, you are probably going to suck at it the first few times you try. And Google did, big time.

(Also: As the wags at eSarcasm pointed out, the Nexus One was way too big. When you need a handtruck to carry around your cell phone, that's a problem.)

On the positive side: The Nexus One still outlived the Microsoft Kin by several months, so Google has that going for it.

Still, I find it strangely reassuring to know Google can execute a face plant as well as any other company. It makes me less fearful that it will eventually take over the world. (Not that I think Google won't try, just that it will screw that up too.)

I do still believe unlocked handsets will eventually become the norm for many in the United States, as they are in Europe. That might even lead to better service from the wireless carriers, assuming AT&T doesn't swallow them all. But not today.

If you have a Nexus One, I'd suggest you remove the battery and place it in deep storage in a dustproof case. It may be worth something on eBay in 20 years. It's not worth a heckofalot now.

Did you buy a Nexus One? What do you think people should do with theirs? E-mail me: cringe@infoworld.com.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
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