44 Comments

Summary:

Google has postponed the launch of two Android smartphones in China as its high-profile stand-off with Beijing escalates. With the door closed to the world’s largest mobile market, is it too early to wonder when Google will pull the plug on the Nexus One?

Google this morning postponed the launch of two Android handsets in China in a clear indication that the company’s rift with Beijing threatens its booming mobile business. Meanwhile, the Nexus One has seen lackluster sales amid widespread complaints of technical glitches. So with Android’s future in China uncertain, and problems mounting with Google’s decision to build and sell the ideal Android phone — the Nexus One —  is it too early to wonder whether Google will pull the plug on its flagship phone?

Google indefinitely pushed back the launch of two handsets slated to debut tomorrow from China Unicom, dramatically upping the ante in its high-profile showdown with the Chinese government. As Om noted last week, China accounts for more 638 million wireless users, and handset sales are expected to grow by 21 percent this year alone. And the market could be especially ripe for Android given its support by some key players in the region: members of Google’s Open Handset Alliance include operators China Mobile and China Telecom as well as Huawei and ZTE.

While a governmental crackdown could lead to versions of the open-source OS that are far less integrated with Google’s mobile apps, the escalating conflict means that Google will be unable to control the evolution of Android in China. And it surely closes the door on any potential Chinese sales of the Nexus One — throwing yet another roadblock at the struggling handset.

Google appears to have overreached in launching its own branded handset. The search giant was clearly unprepared to deal with the customer service issues that inevitably arise in the retailing business, and splashy headlines of customer backlash are tarnishing its highly respected brand.

The company has obviously overestimated demand for an “official” Google phone, selling just 20,000 handsets in the first week it was out, and its strategy of competing against its handset and carrier partners has limited upside and risks losing the widespread support that has fueled Android’s growth. It may be unfair to predict doom for a handset that came to market just two weeks ago, but it’s becoming clear that taking on the role of mobile retailer was a mistake for Google. It’s too early to predict that Google will kill the Nexus One, but it’s not too early to wonder whether it should.

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  1. short answer: NO.

    long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

  2. You people are crazy. I bought the phone, I love it. It’s a fantastic bit of technology. You think they won’t be able to work with their partners to correct some simple software issues? I have none of these issues with my N1 personally, outside of the 3G/Edge switching issue. They will sell just fine, especially once the phone hits more carriers (a la Verizon). At least give it a few months before predicting doom and gloom, thanks.

    1. The 3G/EDGE switching issue doesn’t sound insignificant. Hopefully it is just a software glitch. It’s a real battery killer, isn’t it? If I recall correctly, some iPhone 3G[s] owners had the same issue, which was fixed with a quick OS update.

      The Nexus One is really tempting me to leave the iPhone ecosystem, but there’s still too many “doesn’t do” or at least “doesn’t do well” issues on the Android platform that are important to me that keep me from actually allowing the orders for it I’ve made to go uncancelled. Being on T-Mobile is also a problem for me.

      1. The first couple days I had it, the battery died in 8 hours each day (killing unused apps with advanced task killer). I dimmed the display (it’s still plenty bright), and it lasts 12-14 hours with over half the battery left now.

        This is playing games, having gmail/gchat on the whole time, surfing, live wallpapers, pretty typical stuff.

        As long as you kill apps you aren’t using, the battery life is pretty good, def better than my 3GS.

        The display is stunning. Reading web pages is great, and the trackball has actually come in handy several occasions when nav links are too close together. Also works great for ROMs.

        Apps is the real issue imo, as iPhone blows Android out of the water, for obvious and overstated reasons. And I would certainly appreciate more multitouch apps, and native multitouch support.

      2. Oh, the switching issue is definitely aggrevating. Edge crawls, 3G flies. I would certainly hope for a fix in the near future. If this goes on for months, then that’s another story.

    2. Thanks.

      I meant the switching between Edge/3G was a battery drainer. That’s the theory anyways with iPhones in spotty areas..the constant upping of the power on the radio searching for a signal kills the battery.

      Apps, iTunes music/podcast sync, audible.com comptability, and of course T-Mobile coverage are my biggest concerns.

      I should just buy the darn thing and get it over with. I’ll never be satisfied until I try it for myself. ;-)

  3. I would like to read your view on…
    Would this back foot move in china trigger any strategy change for nexus one towards India(the next wide market)?

    ciao,
    Pranav

  4. Notice how much of the press for the Nexus One has been negative once the initial glow/rush subsided?

    It’s a great phone, “glitches” notwithstanding. Aad no, they shouldn’t kill it. But . . . wow, has it not worked well so far.

    Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO
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  5. What kind of journalism is this? What makes you an expert? The Nexus has been out a mere two weeks!!! The people I know who have it say it’s awesome! Personally, I think Google is just testing the waters and plans a bigger Verizon launch. I’m guessing Apple pays you guys…

  6. I also can rant Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Let me gess, you have an iPhone…

  7. They gotta keep this on the market to keep Apple on it’s toes, its a better device than the iPhone and just has some teething troubles to overcome IMO.

  8. As usual bloggers are over reacting. Its a great phone. Its way better than my spouses iphone 3gs.

  9. The Nexus will do just fine when it gets on Verizon. I am a Droid owner (which I am very pleased with BTW), I will look hard at getting the Nexus for my wife as I think she will like the form factor better than the Droid). Google has screwed up by rushing it out before it seemed to be ready, but I believe they will fix it. Even if they dump their online store and just let the carriers market the phone, I think the device itself will be fine. But they better hurry, as their is always something new around the corner…..

  10. Posts like these confirm my theory on why you shouldn’t look to reporters for strategic analysis.

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