At least one aspect of GoogleGoogle 's attempt to disrupt the world of mobile communications - selling phones directly to customers - has failed.
The Web search firm announced Friday that it will essentially shut down the Internet store it used to sell its Nexus One smart phone, the flagship device for Google's Android operating system.
"While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not," wrote Andy Rubin a Google vice-president of engineering, on the company blog. "It's remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it's clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from."
Google's decision to make its own Android phone - through a partnership with handset manufacturer HTC - came as a shock to many industry players. Some companies, such as Motorola, had begun designing Android-powered phones at a time when most believed that Google's strategy was to partner up with manufacturers in the battle against Apple's iPhone. However those companies soon found out that Google would itself produce a competing smart phone.
But the decision to design and sell the Nexus One was perhaps more potentially disruptive for carriers. Many major carriers, from Rogers to Bell to AT&T, have for years bundled phone sales with voice and data contracts. By selling the Nexus One directly through its web store and allowing customers to then shop around for the best contract deals, Google appears to have annoyed some of the biggest carriers in the world. Late last month, Google posted a short announcement on its Nexus One page letting users know that Verizon would not be carrying the device. Instead, Verizon opted for the Droid Incredible, another HTC Android phone similar in functionality to the Nexus One.
Google now plans to market its smart phone through "existing retail channels," essentially partnering with carriers around the world. The Nexus One web store, meanwhile, will essentially become a marketing portal "to showcase a variety of Android phones available globally,' the company said.