Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two views on Google's Nexus One slow growth start: is it a failure, or a glorious experiment?

Which is true: consumers don't want the new Nexus One phone, or was it all about getting Android phones into the market?
Peter Kafka from the WSJ believes that Verizon's decision not to sell the Nexus One is simply because "consumers don’t want it". (Verizon made its announcement yesterday -- no Nexus One at Verizon.)

Kafka points to some numbers released last month by AdMob, the mobile ad network, that shows that the Nexus One is way down on the list of Android based cell phones, with only 2 percent of all Android traffic. The same report shows, though, that Android traffic is growing rapidly, now accounting for 25 percent of all smartphone Internet traffic.

On the other hand, Priya Ganapati, writing on the Gadget Lab blog at Wired, says there are lessons to learned from Google's launch that may justify the whole experiment. According to Ganapati, Google has learned that one can't sell phones like computer, that marketing matters (in other words, those iPhone ads work), in mobile phones Google is just a start-up, the market is complex, and that earning developer goodwill is key.

This last point is important: Google is flooding the market with Android units -- even giving away Nexus One units in order to get them in the hands of developers. This was smart since many developers were committed to the iPhone platform. Further, it is clear that Google is not done with smartphones.

"There's going to be another one and another one and another one and another one. It's just going to get better," Andy Rubin, Google's vice president of engineering told the Mercury News last week. "In an open-source ecosystem, where anybody can have the technology that we're creating, our role becomes shepherding that technology into the highest-performing, most innovative products possible."

So in the end, what may have signified a failure of one product, the Nexus One, may instead simply another push forward for the platform -- Android.