Google has another stab at direct Nexus sales
To sell unlocked version of Samsung Galaxy Nexus to US consumers via Google Play, though with customer support this time
Published: 24 April, 2012
Google just can't leave direct device sales alone. Despite alienating carrier allies when it tried to sell its original Nexus handset via its own internet store in 2010 - and backing away from that strategy - it will now sell an unlocked version of the latest Nexus device via its Google Play shopfront.
This is part of an effort by Google to reassert its own brand over the Android platform. Although the search giant invests the largest sums in developing its open source OS, the famous green logo is often more associated with Samsung or HTC. So the web player recently renamed Android Market as Google Play, and has hinted at a wider range of own-branded devices, which can be sold direct to consumers. The next is expected to be an Asus tablet under the Nexus name, although of course, the real question is whether the imminent Motorola Mobility acquisition will see Google turning into a hardware vendor.
For now, its main smartphone partner is Samsung, and Google will sell an unlocked version of the Galaxy Nexus handset via Google Play for $399. Andy Rubin, SVP of mobile at the search vendor, wrote on a corporate blog posting that the product would be available initially in the US, without any carrier contract or commitment, and he hinted that it could reach other countries in future.
The unlocked model will work on AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks and will come pre-installed with Google Wallet and a $10 credit. One tension over the Galaxy Nexus has been Verizon's refusal to activate Wallet on its CDMA/LTE version, a choice which many assume to be a result of the carrier's membership of the rival Isis m-payments initiative. This minor spat highlighted the difficult balance Google has to draw in its cellco dealings - working closely with Verizon to promote Android via the high profile Droid launches, but also seeing the operator opening its own-branded app store and wallet.
"We want to showcase the phone and Google Play," Jamie Rosenberg, Google's director of digital content, told GigaOM. "Yes, it's another way for a consumer to buy a phone, but we see the Galaxy Nexus as a great endpoint for Google services." But the previous attempt to sell Nexus directly fell foul of consumers' confusion over who would offer support in the event of faults. This time, Google says it has added its own telephone support team to the Play store, which will handle issues with Nexus.