Nexus One – That’s All Folks [Post Mortem]

We all know of the latest news that the Nexus One is officially no longer to be sold by Google. Its been about a fortnight since I started using the Nexus one. Those two statements while related, are not indicative to the fact that the phone is an absolute pleasure to use.

Let me start with some specifics. I have used an iPhone briefly and am a BIG fan of the beauty. I think it is the Aishwarya Rai of the smartphone market. Beautiful, sexy, graceful – but very "access denied" for lots of things. The Nexus one on the other hand is like the Girl Next door. It is definitely not as sexy as the iPhone – but has got the basics right (you know what I mean). Most importantly you can customize it the way you want – not only wallpapers and home screens – but the ROM availability too.

Now let me write a few things about why I like the Nexus One (and maybe all Android phones) before I try to analyze the reasons why Google stopped selling it.

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Apps – Yes I know the iPhone app store has a lot more apps. But thats comparing apples and oranges. Its like Steve Ballmer saying that Facebook features could be done in 4 weeks by a bunch of devs at MS. I think the Android App store has almost all the apps you will ever need and more (There would be an almost 1:1 mapping between the top 1000 apps on iPhone and Android App stores). Suhel wrote a post some time ago on some must-have apps on the Nexus One.

Usability and set up – It was an absolute pleasure. Once I gave my Google account details, it was a dream to set this one up – synced contacts, address book, calendar – and you are up and running in 10 minutes.

Integration with FB / Twitter – Yes they are important factors for me. My N1 came with both these apps pre-installed and again tied into my address book (nice). So now I see FB pictures of those of my friends who are on my address book. Found that really intuitive and also cool.

Integration with work email / calendar – Although the calendar integration part was a pain, the email integration (especially after Froyo) was superb.

Texting / writing emails – Having used a WM phone with resistive touch for a longer duration and the Apple capacitive touch for a shorter duration, I was apprehensive about the speed of typing emails and text messages, however with Swype its a pleasure to write fast and write more.

Now what made Google stop selling Nexus one?

When it came out, it was the flagship Android phone with the best specs – since overtaken by the HTC Evo and the Droid Incredible (which I think is the best Android phone now). So why did Google decide to stop selling it?

I personally think it is a question of focus. While Google is a great company to make software, products and in partnership drive hardware requirements, it is NOT a company to sell phones. Nexus One suffered from that constraint. Apple did the right thing selling phones in partnership with service providers in most countries and resellers in others. Google started realizing the merits of that approach as indicated by this blog post in mid-May.

To quote

"While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not. 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."

So theoretically they have not stopped making Nexus One phones – rather just stopped selling them through their sales channel. In fact their site shows that they will continue selling in other countries like usual.

However here is the deal. The Nexus One is like that student that has been called a bastard in the school assembly – by the headmaster. I think there is no going back for N1 now – and it is pretty much going to die a slow death. The other Android phones however should and would prosper from the learnings that the Nexus One taught Google and other handset manufacturers.

What do you think?

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