Reversing course, Google plans to increase support for partners selling Android devices in retail stores.
After four months, Google has decided to stop selling its Nexus One mobile phone through its Web store.
Andy Rubin, the company's VP of engineering for Android, made the announcement on Friday in a blog post.
Declaring that sales of Android phones have been going well overall, Rubin expressed disappointment with the sales of Nexus One phones through the company's online store.
"[A]s with every innovation, some parts worked better than others," he said. "While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the Web store has not. It's remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it's clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from."
Google's Web store, he said, will become a showcase for a variety of Android devices sold by the company's partners.
Google isn't yet ready to say when online sales of the Nexus One will end. "We don't have an exact date to announce for the closure of the Web store right now," a company spokesperson said via e-mail. "Once we have increased the availability of Nexus One devices in stores, we'll be closing the Web store entirely."
This seems to preclude the possibility that Google might sell Chrome OS netbooks directly when it releases its Web-centric operating system later this year.
Google plans to adopt the sales model it has been using in Europe, in which partners offer the Nexus One through existing retail channels.
When Google launched the Nexus One in January, analysts expressed concern that Google's decision to sell the phone directly might anger its mobile carrier and handset manufacturing partners. A more appropriate worry would have been the company's lack of marketing commitment and its underestimation of the value of tactile interaction with phones in retail settings.
Verizon's success selling the the Android-based Droid phone has a lot to do with its television advertising campaign and its large number of retail outlets.
Rubin's observation about the healthy state of Android sales overall was put in specific terms by Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday. Schmidt said that over 65,000 Android phones are being shipped every day.
That puts Android phone sales at about the same level as Apple's iPhone. According to Schmidt, the Android operating system is available on 34 devices in 49 countries.
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