Listening to public radio news last night, I heard a reporter mention that Google's Nexus One smartphone, thought by some to be a potential "iPhone killer," had sold only 20,000 units in its first week. Compare that with 1.6 million in sales of the iPhone 3GS in its first week, and you might expect Google and HTC executives to be updating their resumes.
But I think you'd be wrong. (For one thing, every single Google employee has a personal net worth north of $4.6 billion, so they're just in the office out of crazy devotion anyway.) Seriously, though, as the news report pointed out, Nexus One has only been available through a Google online store so far, and many (most?) people like to see and touch a product before they buy it, especially if it's as expensive as the unlocked version of Nexus One: more than $500.
Now comes reports that Nexus One will be sold soon from Wal-Mart, though whether it'll only be through Wal-Mart's web site or in its stores is not yet clear. Allegedly, the phone will be sold with a multi-year contract to various wireless carriers. If true, this is a smart move by Google and Wal-Mart. It'd be really smart if it will in fact be available in stores, so potential buyers can get that touch-feel experience.
As I've noted here before, I am one of the early purchasers of the Nexus One, and I'm dearly in love with it. As I lay on the couch this past weekend recovering from a very bad cold that had turned my voice into a sub-Harvey Fierstein gravel, I discovered that I could stop typing my text messages. Instead, I just select the microphone option, speak my response, and hit Send. Even with my voice nearly unrecognizable by me, the service worked perfectly with everything I said. I've been an annoying nerd evangelist around the office this week, showing off this feature to people (though I'm happy to say my voice and health have pretty much returned to normal). That's just one of the features of this beautiful new phone that I like so much.
Ultimately, I neither know nor care if Nexus One is an "iPhone killer." The iPhone's a great product, and Apple deserves every bit of success they've had with it. (Arguably, they could have had more; I would have an iPhone if they hadn't restricted it to AT&T since it came out. Thus did Steve Jobs deliver me into the arms of Google.) Just as Nexus One integrates with Google's suite of online applications, iPhone integrates with Apple's premium suite of hardware and OS. Both are smart strategies; both have given us quality smart phones.