This article was published on March 16, 2010

Nexus One: A Failure…Or A Ferrari?

Nexus One: A Failure…Or A Ferrari?
Martin Bryant
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Martin Bryant


Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

Nexus One: A Failure... Or A Ferrari?New research indicated that Google’s Nexus One launch has been a disaster – but is that really the case?

The figures published today by mobile analytics firm Flurry show that while the iPhone sold one million units in its first 72 days on sale, the Nexus One managed a measily 135,000 in the same period.

What’s more, Motorola’s Droid, a similarly-specced Android handset launched a few weeks before the Nexus One managed to sell more than the iPhone in its first 72 days – 1.05 million units. So, does this really mean that the Nexus One has been a trainwreck, sales-wise? Has Google’s ‘direct sales on the web only’ experiment flopped?

Not necessarily; the Nexus One is trying something new and customers take time to adjust to new ways of doing things.

The Nexus One was launched amidst major hype – it made national TV news in the USA and elsewhere and, for a few weeks at least, was the hottest gadget on the planet. There’s no doubt that the public wants it. Our guide to buying the Nexus One from the UK is the most popular on our UK channel this year, with a long comment thread of users sharing their own experiences.

However even in America, currently the only country where ordering the handset at a subsidised price with a contract is simple and easy, the problem for the Nexus One is simple – you can’t buy it in stores. Yes, people like to handle phones before they buy them – especially expensive ones. It’s too big an investment to throw away without careful consideration. Not only could users not buy the handset from stores, they had no other way of seeing it in action because the chance of seeing someone using one in the street was so remote.

The Nexus One needs time to build up traction. To compare it to the similarly-hyped-but-available-everywhere Droid and iPhone is missing the point. While Google’s first directly sold phone may never catch up to its peers in raw sales numbers, it doesn’t need to. A product only sold in one place can never match wide availability in raw sales numbers but Google probably never expected it to.

Think of it this way; Ferrari may have fewer showrooms and sell far fewer vehicles than Toyota but no-one’s ever going to accuse Porche of being a failure.