back to article Google's Nexus One sales still sluggish

As Google's Nexus One smartphone celebrates its one-month birthday, word comes that Mountain View has sold a mere 80,000 of the devices. But if you believe Google's mobility chief Andy Rubin, that number is just fine with him. When Google's self-described superphone was released, Rubin told GigaOM's Om Malik that he thought …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    this is when it'll be spot on for bill ray to write that the nexus one will fail and fail badly.

    Paris, cause she is clever.....

    oh gosh, i picked the wrong avatar. that's hot

  2. Chris Miller 2

    Great phones

    I've had one for about 3 weeks now, and I'm very happy with it. It only took 4 days to ship to the UK, and so far I haven't been billed for any VAT or import duty. In the time I've had it a LOT of people have commented on it, and four people I know have ordered one as a direct result of seeing mine in action.

    I suspect that when this phone finally hits the high street, Droid, and possibly even iPhone, sales will pale in comparison.

    1. Doc Savage


      I've had mine about the same time, and coming from a HTC Magic, the N1 rules.

      For a HTC phone though, I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed all round. Usually they're lacking in camera/battery life depts, but the N1 camera is sweet, and the battery better than my Magic. The AMOLED screen is just whoa.

      I've just had my VAT bill through. :-) Unless you got the charger (I hope you didn't) there isn't any import duty. Import duty doesn't apply to handsets, only accessories.

      The thing Google (I know it's HTC, but it's not really) need to watch out for is another handset with 2.1 and similar specs and advertising, because if one comes out before the N1 is released with the carriers, I can see a lot of lost sales.

      A happy N1 owner, signing off.

    2. chr0m4t1c
      Thumb Down


      "I suspect that when this phone finally hits the high street, Droid, and possibly even iPhone, sales will pale in comparison."

      I suspect that you may be deluding yourself a bit, if there was that much of a demand then they would have sold more than they have already.

      Fact is, the Android market is already quite fragmented with choices over styling and features to consider, wheras in the iPhone market the choice is basically down to how much memory do you want (or how much can you afford); it's highly unlikely that any one Android phone will seriously dent the market now unless it's stupdily good value for money (e.g. 64Gb memory for £10).

      Most consumers don't give two hoots about the OS running on their phone, they don't buy "the phone that runs the iPhone OS", they just buy the "iPhone". Pretty much how MS gained dominance in the desktop market, generally people just want a "PC" or a "Laptop", it just happens to be pre-loaded with Windows by default and that lets them get access to YouTube and their email.

      Witness the total lack of a desktop revolution spearheaded by Linux based netbooks. It really doesn't matter what any of us in the techical arena would like to see happen, consumers will generally go for "shiny" or "cool" or "cheap" above actual merit. Just look at the popularity of X-Factor.

      Unfortunately, that's the real world. You remember that, have a quick look left and right - there it is.

      1. chris_overseas


        Perhaps I am. I did think about my comment quite carefully though, and I still think that the N1 will outsell the Droid once it hits the high street. Surely that's not too much of a stretch? As for the iPhone, you're right in saying that a single Android phone probably can't dent the iPhone too much. I also agree most consumers won't care about the OS on their phone. But if any single phone can impact the iPhone, it's the N1. I'm basing my statement on a few things:

        - While the UI is not quite up to scratch compared to the iPhone, it doesn't fall short by much, exceeds it in some areas, and is still improving rapidly with each update. In terms of features IMHO the N1 already superceeds the iPhone in most areas.

        - Articles like this one:

        - BIG performance and other improvements to the N1 which I know are in the pipeline (ARM NEON optimisations, JIT, himem extensions and other kernel improvements). Sounds techy but together they'll make a big difference to the user experience, which is already very good.

        - Android's ability to win over developers with its open platform.

        - The possibilities for apps that simply aren't possible on a stock iPhone. Virually every part of the user experience is pluggable, and there are already fantastic 3rd party keyboards, contact managers, SMS clients, browsers and so on available. Granted, most users may not care too much about this at purchase time.

        - The large number of iPhone using friends (and people on the street!) who've approached me and asked about my phone, and have gone away impressed. One even bought an N1 and retired his iPhone the next day.

        Anyway, I'm no fanboy either way, just a suitably impressed N1 owner who thinks the phone has the potential to be a slow burning hit. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the next year or so. Regardless of what happens, the additional competition created is a great thing for the consumer (and long overdue!), so we should all win no matter what :)

  3. Bryan Anderson

    No touchy-feely

    I simply cannot imagine buying a mobile phone without first having a play with it - feel the weight, the size, the responsiveness. Until they get these things on a UK network where you can go and play with it in the shop, I certainly wouldn't even consider it.

    1. Gareth Bult 1

      You wanna try one?

      Just walk into a "3" shop and have a play with the "HTC hero" on display .. then consider the Nexus is the same but "more" .. I reckon about 3-4 mins is all you'll need.

    2. Mullerrad
      Thumb Up

      Android Nexus

      Well weighs less than the iphone (just) feels smaller (isnt). Very smooth, very responsive renders web pages super fast. I now have pinch and zoom update and the screen is vivid and bright.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      When you finally get your hands on it, you'll want it

      I had the same reservations. Luckily a friend ordered one the day it came out. Once I'd had a play, I didn't hesitate in waving goodbye to my well-loved Nokia e71. Finally, a product that combines the best features of the iPhone, with the flexibility of a less restrictive OS. My one irritation? Limited Microsoft Exchange sync capabilities compared to the Nokia - if you need it, you've just got to bite the bullet and pay the extra $20 for the frankly excellent Touchdown app.

      1. Ian Yates

        Playing with it

        I haven't found a single carrier shop that will let me play with any smartphone.

        Orange, O2, and Three all said that they weren't allowed to use real smartphones due to the model then being devalued... which sounds mad to me; who's going to fork over a few hundred pounds (even over an X month contract) for something they can't play with.

        It's even madder when you realise that most of the carriers give you a 30-day trail for your handset.

        Anyway, I eventually went for a HTC Hero and haven't regretted it. The N1 looks nice, but I can't enough to make me want to spend the money to upgrade. (Especially since I run Eclair on my Hero).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just Google employees

    I got a free Nexus One for attending an Android developer thingy at Google, London just this week. The hardware seems to be better than my iPhone 3GS in that the screen is larger, has better definition and much better colours, and the whole thing is thinner and lighter. Conversely, the OS is confused and over technical, the main apps aren't as responsive as their iPhone counterparts (especially at zooming and tracking your finger), the provision for apps is a bit of a joke (apps must be installed to internal memory, not to the micro SD — out of the box that gives you just 177mb for apps, which immediately precludes commercial iPhone releases like Grand Theft Auto and doesn't give you that much space for smaller apps), you can't actually exit many apps without digging into the settings screen to perform a force quit, including the supplied GTalk IM client, the fonts look cheap and tacky compared to the one-true-font of Helvetica, it's almost impossible to select text and I've already encountered two or three UI bugs, mostly to do with text boxes or bits of them being obscured by the on-screen keyboard if type text into them, go elsewhere, then attempt to go back into them.

    The only audience I'd recommend it (or, presumably, any other Android device) to are the sort of nerds who actually care about clock speeds and megapixels.

    1. Def Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      It's a Google product

      Surely the first two years after 'launch' will be the beta phase.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Given that you were at the Android DEVELOPER labs event, I'd have expected you to have been a little more clued up on how the phone works.

      1. The storage space for the apps is for the *executable* only. All the other files go on the SD card. Given that almost all apps are < 10Mb (and most are <1MB) this limit is irrelevant. You mention GTA - it'll install exactly the same way as the 2GB CoPilot app does - a very small bootstrap exe on the device, and everything else on the SD card.

      2. The reason there's no close button on apps is because Android manages that for you. Apps are put to sleep and therefore take no resources. I ran my Nexus from Tuesday (when I got it from the Google Dev Lab) to Friday without a single restart (for the multi-touch OTA update) - apps were managed just fine. That's how it's supposed to work.

      The rest of your points are either vague or irrelevant. The OS isn't any more technical than the iPhone, and to claim the fonts look cheap is just stupid.

      You claim that the only people to get one should be nerds who care about clock speeds, and yet you pull the inaccurate "177mb for apps" argument as a mainstay of your disagreement. You're a classic fanboi, and if you really don't like it, I suggest you give the device back to Google - there's plenty of other people who'd love a device as polished as the Nexus, especially for free.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Android developer events are open to anybody that is, or is interested in, developing for Android. I went along to learn. They didn't advertise that you'd get a free phone (wisely), so that was a nice bonus. I was careful to state that I only just got the device and that my normal handset is an iPhone.

        1. Apps from the Market install automatically and in their entirety to the internal memory. If they wish they can of their own volition download additional data and write it to the SD. It is simply not true that "all the other files go on the SD card" — files that you specifically write code to place on the SD card go on the SD card, and your membership of the Marketplace does not automatically get you a secure place from which to download them or a way in which to sell them.

        2. in summary, if I should launch the built-in IM client then I have no way to quit it. I don't care about the technical stuff underneath. Regardless of the technicalities, "that's how it's supposed to work" isn't a particularly convincing defence against an allegation that something was misdesigned.

        An example of Android's overly technical approach to an appliance audience:

        On the iPhone there is one place that lists installed apps, which is the same place on which you rearrange apps and the same place from which you uninstall apps. It's all one screen. As a casual user, I therefore understand that the icons there ARE the apps.

        On the Android, the top screen is a Windows-style desktop. You can add shortcuts to apps you like there, rearrange them however you want and remove the shortcuts, but they in themselves are not the apps. They're an abstraction that requires me to abandon spatial thinking. All apps are listed in a separate screen through a BlackBerry/Symbian-style horizontal scroller, where they appear in a fixed alphabetical order. So I can think of the apps in there as the actual apps, but I'm not able to arrange them how I want. To uninstall apps I have to drill down through settings, applications, installed applications, tap the one I want to uninstall, tap to uninstall on the next screen and then tap to confirm that.

        I don't think you can claim that isn't more technical. There's no consistent metaphor and I'm required to deal with the OS rather than directly with the apps to uninstall.

        I guess you're not design minded if you can state that "to claim the fonts look cheap is just stupid". Helvetica is a design classic to the extent that there is even a well-received documentary film to celebrate its 50th anniversary (see It also costs money to license, which is no doubt why Google haven't been able to include it with an open source software stack. In fact, it's why Microsoft don't include it with Windows — they use Arial which is almost indistinguishable from Helvetica at normal screen resolutions and not desperately different on paper.

        I don't know what Google use in Android, but it's a long way off both. Go on rallying against the typeface world if it fits the team you want to support, but don't try to claim it's everyone else that's being a fanboy.

        An additional complaint that has struck me since the event: the glass or plastic cover they have on the Nexus One is clearly quite cheap and prone to scratching. They even supply a little pocket bag like the iPod socks that Apple used to sell separately to protect the old similarly-scratch attracting iPods. Conversely, the iPhone and the iPod Touch have a huge slab of heft optic-quality glass on the front. I'm sure it adds weight, but I know which I expect to last longer.

      2. B 9

        Who's the fanboi?

        Your points are not exactly comforting, although I suspect you thought it would defuse his criticism.

        1. You ability to install a large number of apps seems to be limited by the low memory allocation, even based on your own description. 177Mb may seem like a fair amount, but a few executables of over 10Mb and a few in between 1-10Mb will quickly eat up that storage space.

        2. You seem very excited that you managed to run the phone over the weekend with no restarts? I hope this is not the pinnacle of Android success?

        "The rest of your points are either vague or irrelevant. The OS isn't any more technical than the iPhone, and to claim the fonts look cheap is just stupid."

        - I would guess that you just don't like his criticism and so you dismiss it rather than address it head on. It makes me think he has a point that you carefully attempted to sidestep through ridiculing him.

        "You're a classic fanboi"

        -Kind of the pot calling the kettle black isn't it? You seem no less the fanboi?

    3. James Hughes 1

      Since you don't want it...

      Can I have it?

      (ps. Most the stuff you mention sounds pretty easily fixable in software - perhaps you should wait for the next version? Perhaps send in a bug report to help?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Definitely fixable in software

        You're absolutely right that every substantial issue I identified can be fixed in software. A week ago I would have been saying that the absence of pinch zoom is a bit annoying, but they fixed that already. The hardware's quite nice, especially the screen.

        Probably I should keep the phone; I think we're going to port our most significant iPhone app.

  5. Alastair 7

    I got one

    As an upgrade from an iPhone 2G, and it's great. I paid the full $500-odd upfront and benefit with a lower monthly fee- over the course of two years I'll save a couple of hundred dollars.

    But that's why this sales method is doomed to fail. Most people don't think two years ahead.

    1. Alex 0.1


      It's also doomed to fail because ultimately it also works out more expensive to the consumer, for almost all higher-end phones.

      As an example, I just picked up a free N900 upgrade on O2 through the carphone warehouse for £30/month for 24 months, without the phone the lower tarrif that still gives me what I need in terms of airtime and data would be ~£20/month - A £240 saving over 2 years and no phone, or a free £450-500 phone? Easy choice, for me.

      1. Chris_Maresca
        Thumb Up

        Totally agree

        I just bought two Blackberry Tours for $200. Had a hard time even thinking of spending that much for just one phone, let alone $500. That said, I have a relatively expensive voice/bb/data/tethering plan that works with any carrier globally, so my home carrier is much more willing to give me deep discounts (over $1100 in this case).

        For those who are wondering and are in the US, Best Buy has BB Tours (Sprint w/GSM & CDMA) for $99 for new accounts and some people's upgrades....

  6. Mullerrad

    Android Nexus

    I had mine a week, no duty so with UK charger (I can still use us one had a adapter) came to £330 unlocked. i remembered all my G1 setting including the apps I had aleady bought just had to re download them. I sold my G1 for £60 so I happy. Its a loverl phone an even some of my Jesus phone mates have said its close to being an iphone beater. (Ithink it already is).

    Anyway once its launched here I sure sales will pick up. in the mean time I have cool phone non of my mates have.

    BTW delivery was super fast, ordered Friday morn including the engraving and it arrived Monday am.

  7. jubtastic1

    100 Million Dollars?

    Did the marketing droid pull a Dr Evil pose when he demanded that budget?

  8. Drefsab


    is it any wonder its not flying off the shelf when its not in stores for joe public to look at? Im in the UK and waiting to get one, im sure as hell not getting its im free at that price, plus I want one with a network bundle for 3g air time. When that happens I'll order one :)

  9. Andrew Oliver

    No advertising? huh?

    The article is wrong to state that there's been no marketing blitz around the Nexus One - at least here in the US. There are traditional-media ads (billboards, print ads) as well as innumerable online ads - I can hardly watch a YouTube video without an overlaid Nexus One ad.

    It's also the only ad ever to run on the top page of and that's arguably worth millions right there.

  10. Tony Paulazzo

    want one

    may - will have to wait, either for contract or have more money, but I definitely want one.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    They taste better when free ;)

    I went to the London Android Developer labs, and Google gave me a free N1. I also got a free breakfast there. :)

    But the device is good enough that the same day I ordered one from Google for my wife.

    It's the same size/shape as an iPhone, and is a very polished device. My second Android phone so far (first being a Magic), I think this platform has the legs. It'll be interesting to see how this does when Voda announce it as a subsidised device on contract - and how much marketing goes alongside that.

  12. Tim Bates

    I'd get one if...

    I was keen to get one at first. I can put up with no hardware keyboard, but I don't want to put up with a US import and the problems that can cause.

    Maybe the next HTC Android phone will have a keyboard....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It's not a US import the 'grey import' sense. Phones bought from Google US are sold with a UK charger and have a full warranty and support. They ship from the US, but other than that it's as if you bought it direct from Google's office in London.

      And hardware keyboards are over-rated. The Droid's keyboard is pretty poor, and I can touch-type on my N1 faster than I could on my old WinMo-based TyTN2 - which had one of the best hardware keyboards on a mobile device.

  13. James Dunmore

    Not Bad

    Considering it's not on a network yet. It'll be interesting to see the sales once Voda get it up and running soon; also I don't think people are as "iPhone crazy" and will wait for current contracts to end before upgrading... a lot of android fans have already jumped on the magic/hero/droid bandwagon, so it'll be 18month or so until they can change phones again.

  14. Psmiffy

    Could someone

    please find a firm release date for Europe? I am sure it will do better when released here as. Nothing in the media has any kind of proper date for this and it bugs the heck out of me.

  15. Olivier 2
    Black Helicopters

    On purpose ?

    I don't see that Google tried hard to sell this phone "en masse". No advertising, no marketing campaign, and remember, the prelaunch hype only reaches the gadget geeks like us. Looks more like an experiment, some way for google to get hard feedback from the hardware front line, and also, without canibalising partner's handset sales.

    When Google wants to push something, they do mass advertising (chrome campaign) like everybody else.

    Noone around me knows that there is a nice phone OS called Android. 75% of surveyed british people know roughly what the iPad does.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Definitely intentional

      Think about it - Google are doing lots of new things here, in particular:

      1. Selling an unlocked handset which isn't tied to a carrier direct to consumers

      2. Selling something that's paid and requires support (a first for Google)

      They could have gone for the big iPad-style PR push, but that would have ended in a major fail because they'd have undoubtedly struggled to keep up with consumer demand and the support overhead.

      Google are clearly in this for the long-haul. They have a stake in the iPhone market (their search is all over that platform) so they don't need to kill the iPhone (at least not yet). Much better to slowly - and surely - eat into the Nokia/RIM/Windows Mobile market shares. And for the moment, get enough of a user-base that the developers get interested and start writing quality apps for it (that's why Google are giving away hundreds of N1s this week to the Android Dev Labs) so that by the time the big promos hit the airwaves (e.g., if Vodafone or whoever start marketing the N1 as part of their subsidised deals) the apps are there so that people buy it.

      It's a well thought-out, careful and very canny strategy. Okay, so it's different from the "pay hundreds of people to queue outside Stores and sell a million devices in the first weekend" approach that Apple took, but it's no less valid. A kind of tortoise v hare model, or possibly "slowly slowly catchee monkey". :)

      1. B 9

        Your self deception seems more intentional!

        "They could have gone for the big iPad-style PR push, but that would have ended in a major fail because they'd have undoubtedly struggled to keep up with consumer demand and the support overhead."

        - Your whole post smacks of self delusion. In effect you are saying that they purposely did not try to sell their product because they were too incompetent to project consumer demand, nor staff for support appropriately? I think the only thing well thought out and planned was your defense of Google in the face of disappointing sales results.

        "it's different from the "pay hundreds of people to queue outside Stores and sell a million devices in the first weekend" approach that Apple took"

        - I think this sentence alone reveals the real substance of your post. If you honestly think Apple paid those people to cue outside the store then you should consult a doctor and have your head removed for your posterior orifice!

        What a crock of sh!t. A quicker way to summarize your post is "I hate Apple!".

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Oh really?

          or from Reuters if you don't believe El Reg.

          And I don't hate Apple. I don't love them either. They've done some good things with the smartphone platform, and the competition between them and Google can only make things better for us consumers. Imagine if we were still stuck with the Windows Mobile status quo?

          But there are different approaches to marketing, and Google clearly aren't trumpeting Android or their devices from the rooftops - you only have to look at the fact that there's been almost zero advertising for the Nexus whatsoever. This is a company with $50bn in cash - so it's not like they couldn't afford to splash a bit on PR.

          So while you might sneer and say it's been a failure, there's clearly method in Google's madness. I'd say that selling 100k devices with zero publicity is a better achievement than Apple's sales with the ubiquitous floor-to-ceiling promotion that was unavoidable for the 6 month run-up to the iPhone's launch.

  16. Connor Garvey

    Great phone

    I've had Nexus One for a while and am confused about the bad press. I don't have any connection problems of any kind. I can see the screen in bright sunlight if I turn the brightness up, although it's a bit dim. I haven't seen any slowness, but I guess I can see a very slight delay in finger drag response, which some have called unresponsiveness.

    I can pinch-zoom (yawn) and look at my Exchange mail (yechh), two features iPhone owners complained were missing that no longer are.

    I have OTA updates and OTA software installs, wallpaper and live wallpaper, customizable home screen with widgets, the ability to run more than one app at once and the ability to run background services if I want. I can also perform voice guided navigation powered by voice recognition search. As far as I know, iPhone users can't do any of those things.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big question... (for me to buy one)

    Can I install Opera Mobile 10 on it? I don't want sucky Google Apple or Mozilla browsers...

    I want to be able to have Opera manage all my Bookmarks and data sync between my various Opera installations (work, home, laptop, mobile).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quick way to find out - full list of all android apps.

      Opera Mini is available on Android. Opera 10 isn't - yet. But when you say "sucky", what do you mean? The webkit-based Android browser is, in my opinion, pretty good.

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