Weak sales of Google’s flagship Android phone, the Nexus One, show that Google’s Internet-based direct sales experiment is off to a slow start.It’s a good thing Google doesn’t count on selling phones to make its numbers.
But the fact that the Nexus One is a flop is actually bad news for Google’s phone partner, HTC, which does need to sell as many phones as it can to exist as a business.
So, how bad is the Nexus One doing?
This week, Flurry analytics estimated that Google has sold just 135,000 Nexus One handsets after 74 days. That’s weak compared to the rival Motorola Droid, which sold 1.05 million units over the same time period.
The biggest difference between the two phones: The Droid is being sold through Verizon Wireless, the nation’s biggest wireless carrier, and had been advertised all over TV and on billboards. Meanwhile, the Nexus One is only being sold through Google’s online store, and advertised by Google on the Web. Those limitations (among others) have helped keep sales low, even though the Nexus One is technically a better phone.
This suggests that HTC could be selling significantly more phones if it had gone through the traditional carrier distribution system instead of through Google’s new online store.
Big picture, this isn’t terrible news for Google, which can afford to experiment with this sales model for now.
But it’s lousy for HTC, which is missing out on many potential phone sales.
And it’s a lousy sales pitch for other phone vendors that Google might want to partner with. Good luck getting other companies to bet their best device on a store that doesn’t sell any phones.
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