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Summary:

HTC has begun shipping its Android handset to Verizon Wireless in advance of a launch in the next few weeks. If Google is going to move the needle with its flagship phone, though, it has to start backing the phone with a big marketing budget.

The Nexus One is coming to Verizon — no, really, two months after a deal was announced by Google, the device is on its way. HTC has begun shipping the CDMA version of Google’s Nexus One to Verizon Wireless, according to a report in the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (hat tip, Digitimes). The nation’s largest carrier will begin selling the gadget in the next few weeks, joining T-Mobile USA, which has supported the “Google phone” since its January launch. But that won’t do much to boost Google’s mobile effort unless Mountain View throws some real marketing muscle behind the Nexus One.

There’s a lot to like about the Nexus One, which Om has praised as “the best Android phone yet.” The phone rocks the powerful 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and solid mobile browser, and is closely integrated with applications from both Google and third-party developers. But sales have been tremendously disappointing, prompting Goldman Sachs last week to slash its 2010 sales estimates for the Nexus One by a whopping 70 percent.

That lack of movement can be directly traced to an almost utter lack of marketing for the phone. (That’s a lesson Palm has learned with its Pre. Twice.) Google’s promotion of its flagship device consisted largely of a placing a modest link on its home page, and carriers — which are rightly terrified of their brands being elbowed out of the way — have only minimally backed the gadget. Worse, the phone is available only through Google’s online store, which most smartphone shoppers surely don’t even know exists. And that model isn’t likely to change with Verizon Wireless, as Kevin at jkOnTheRun noted last week.

Google has said since January that the Nexus One would be coming to Verizon Wireless, and the company is wise to combine its impressive hardware with Verizon’s rock-solid network. But if Google is really going to move the needle with its flagship device, it’s going to have to back it with some big-budget marketing campaigns.

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  1. FYI the picture in this story is not a Nexus One…

    1. Thanks for the heads-up, Robert. We’ve swapped out the image.

  2. Michael Reynaga Monday, March 15, 2010

    I’ll be placing an order the second they are available, move the needle or not (sales-wise) I’ll be getting one. I switched from the iPhone to the Droid last week and have been impressed at how far Android has come, cant wait to pair 2.1 with an OLED screen and a snapdragon proc.

  3. Okay….Why?

    Didn’t Schmidt say in Barcelona that they were now shipping 60K Android handsets a day? I’m more inclined to believe those numbers that the voodoo that Flurry predicts. What percentage of those are Nexus One handsets? Is that “tremendously disappointing”? Again, why? Because they’re not at the 95K/day numbers that iPhone (a product with a 2 year head start and mind-numbing brand loyalty) enjoys?

    Those number have largely been achieved deploying onto the 4th (US) largest carrier. Now they are headed for the #1 carrier.

    Seems as though tech punditry would love for there to be a single Android model to be the iPhone slayer. None ever will be. Nexus One is just a stone in the path. Someone will make the next “best Android handset so far” – and neither Android, nor iPhone are going away anytime soon.

  4. Suggesting that the N1 needs more hype makes a lot of conventional assumptions about Google’s (evolving) objectives.

    Suggesting that they botched the release (as has been done numerous times; frankly, lazy analysis) completely avoids all of the interesting questions that arise if you assume that it was intentional.

    What makes sense for Google now? Is the cat completely out of the bag (i.e., Apple conflict)? Does the android explosion need another push?

    What makes sense for Verizon? Has the Droid marketing money run its course? Does Verizon want the N1 to be their next big thing?

  5. In paragraph one you say that HTC is shipping the CDMA N1 directly to Verizon. In the third paragraph you say the phone is currently available only through Google and that’s unlikely to change. Did you forget about the first paragraph before writing the third?

    1. I bet the phone was shipped to Verizon for testing. Have read elsewhere phone will only be available on goole.com/phone

      1. Indeed, J. Any hardware that will run on VZW’s network has to be certified by the carrier first.

  6. The fact that the Android platform still misses quite a few important things for business users (native email/calendaring support) is definitely part of the reason for it not being a hot seller. What are they going to market it as? an iPhone clone? Where is the innovation? Other than the few people who just don’t like the iPhone or don’t want to switch to AT&T, I am not surprised the response has been lukewarm.

    1. Not switching to AT&T is a bigger deal then one might think for the business user. I think the N1 will grab some of BlackBerry’s market share currently on the Verizon network. I trust android to come up with a native email/calendar support solution before I do Apple. I would also expect Google Calendar to become somewhat more compatible with more calendars then it already is over time.

      1. I agree that switching to AT&T is a big deal. I am VZW user myself. I don’t see the Android being better (that the iPhone) though. The problem with Google betting that people will jump on Google calendar is that it goes against corporate standards in several places. Marketing probably will not solve the problem with lack of sales. It seems as though it is assumed that the lack of sales has to do primarily with lack of marketing/publicity. In reality I think it has to do with a lack of differentiation.

  7. Lessons in Phone Marketing, or Why the Nexus One Is Sucking Wind – GigaOM Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    [...] this story is that the Google experiment of making a really cool phone with the Nexus One and just tossing it over the fence isn’t working so [...]

  8. WRONG, the N1 wont sell shit unless there is a change in the plan you have to get when you buy the phone. you have to change your family plan for a 500 min one and leave your family out in the cold

    1. and that is the nexus one in the pic

    2. You are exactly right. Unless the N1 is bought outright (which is very expensive), most customers would need to downgrade their calling plan and risk overages on the Tmobile in order to have the subsidized phone.

  9. OK, first T-mobile, and now AT&T gets the Nexus One. I would love to know, why is Verizon so far on the lists of carriers. Not fair for people whom has Verizon and don’t want to switch. Whats the deal? I have been waiting since the launch back in January and now AT&T gets one. And its not set in stone when N1 is coming to Verizon. Geeeeeeeze!!!!!

  10. Wait … for me, the primary revelation of this article is: Google has an online store?

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