BUMBLING SMARTPHONE ENTHUSIAST Google has delayed the UK launch of its flagship Android device, the Nexus One, which could kill any chance of success it might have had in Blighty.
The Nexus One was due to appear on these shores in the second half of March but it has now been put back to mid-April. The smartphone is available to British punters direct from Google in California but you'll have to shell out on import duties on top of the handset's cost.
For Google, the Nexus One seems to be a Jonah in its portfolio, getting the device's maker, HTC, into hot water with Apple. First came reports of poor 3G performance which, depending on who you speak to, might or might not be fixed. After posting lacklustre sales figures in its first month, Google enraged Jobs' Mob further by issuing an update that brought fixes for its aforementioned connectivity problems and more pertinently, multi-touch capabilities to the Nexus One.
Apple's Steve Jobs laid down the law, first by ranting that Google's 'Don't Be Evil' policy was "BS" and then by going after the firm by proxy of HTC. The bad news continued for Google as bailed out money peddlers Goldman Sachs cut its sales estimates for the Nexus One by 43 per cent to 1 million units worldwide. For Google it must seem a lot longer than 10 weeks since the firm's new device garnered almost universal praise.
Over here Vodafone has been eager to get the Nexus One on its books and one wonders what has taken the firm so long to do so. Reports abound that Vodafone's US arm, Verizon, has finally taken Nexus One units into stock however that can be attributed to the fact that the US operation uses a CDMA network. This only compounds the frustration for us Brits as the original Nexus One was released with a GSM radio, the same wireless network standard used by all networks, apart from 3, in the UK.
These delays will result in the Nexus One going down in the annals of history as a technology showcase. Vodafone is set to offer the HTC Legend in April, which for all intents and purposes offers a similarly high specification in a more impressive suit. Vodafone won't be alone in ditching interest in the Nexus One, with other operators looking to the HTC Desire to fill the void left by the absence of Google's once promising device.
Google is unlikely to lose much sleep if the Nexus One fails to meet sales expectations. The devices that are likely to take its place on operators' shelves are all powered by the firm's Android system. Far more worrying is the lawsuit faced by the chief Android OEM, HTC. There's little doubt that Android's adoption among handset manufacturers is picking up pace but should Apple's allegations stand up in court, it would be a serious blow, not only for Android but the mobile market.
Apple has, perhaps unsurprisingly given the unjustified hype surrounding it, seen moderate pre-orders sales of its latest toy, the Ipad. That device is set to hit British shelves at the same time as Google's Nexus One. The problem for both Google and HTC is that potential smartphone customers may be won over by Apple's latest shiny creation and keep their current mobile phones. For mobile operators, the Ipad should give them another way of flogging overpriced data services that they spent ridiculous amounts of money to acquire back in the late 90s.
Eric Schmidt might have touted the Nexus One as a "new way of buying a phone" but thanks to his firm's actions most of those in the UK who once yearned for a capable and open device have been left frustrated. Google's first foray into the retail space has, at best, been a hit and miss affair. The firm may want to stick with its day job of flogging advertising for now. µ