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Google Ignoring Criticism Of Nexus One Distribution

Google responds to queries for information, saying that it will go it alone rather than use distribution channels for Nexus One.

smartphone

But if there's one thing Google's also made clear with Nexus One and its newly debuted Web retail operation at www.google.com/phone, it's that Google plans to go things more or less alone, without help from the types of distribution channels that have helped other smartphone purveyors in the past. Even Apple didn't ignore the power of channels for sales of iPhone.

Channelweb.com made multiple attempts to contact Google this week in hopes of shedding a little light on the company's future distribution plans, such as the potential of Nexus One sales for other retailers and even VARs, for starters, and also whether with Nexus One, Google is in effect boxing out other makers of Android-based smartphones that are also its own hardware partners, such as Motorola.

Several requests for an executive interview with Google resulted in a spokesperson saying that, "Unfortunately, we just don't have time to arrange separate interviews."

After being pressed for further inquiry, the spokesperson did answer some of our questions as follows:

On whether the Nexus One has any potential for Google's IT reseller partners and Google's channel program, similar to how Research In Motion and Palm have channel programs for enterprise deployment of their devices:

"As of today, we are focused on selling the Nexus One through our new web store at www.google.com/phone. We don't have any future reseller plans to share."

On whether Google is in effect competing with other Android phone manufacturer partners with the Nexus One, and why manufacturers like Dell, Motorola, HTC, Lenovo and others would want to invest so heavily in Android phones if consumers can buy a great phone from Google directly:

"It's not our objective to compete with our partners. Our expectation is that the Nexus One will push the entire mobile ecosystem forward, driving greater innovation and consumer choice. We look forward to working with other hardware manufacturers to bring more Google-branded devices to market, and opening up these devices to operators around the world. Android remains an open source mobile platform, and we look forward to the innovation that will come from not only Google, but all Android partners."

On whether google plans to sell Nexus One through Google's store only or invite electronics retailers like Best Buy in on the action:

"As of today, we are focused on selling the Nexus One through our new web store at www.google.com/phone. We don't have any future reseller plans to share."

On other types of devices or offerings that might be offered through the Google store in the future:

"Nexus One is the first in what we expect to be a series of products, which we will bring to market with our operator and hardware partners. We don't have any specific details on what might be included in the web store in the future."

Meanwhile, Google's Nexus One sales, which began through its Web store on Tuesday, have been met by a number of complaints. Several news outlets observed Friday that Google's Nexus One forums were overwhelmed with questions about distribution of Nexus One, a host of technical problems, and how Google's definition of "customer service" amounted to pointing users to online forums and FAQs, or asking them to e-mail Google with detailed questions.

"Welcome to direct sales, Google!" read one oft-cited post.

There are plenty of potential benefits to the model, including that "search and advertising on a Nexus One phone will not require revenue sharing with carriers or manufacturers," as Bank of America-Merrill Lynch put it in a Wednesday research note.

But by choosing to distribute the phone itself without the assistance of partners and sales channels, Google is absorbing all the headaches of distribution itself, from customer service to potentially frayed strategic partnerships.

It's also implying that the Nexus One -- and Google -- have enough clout to change consumer habits on buying phones from wireless carriers and through physical retail stores where they can see, touch, and get questions easily answered on the phones they're buying. It's a big gamble, and one that's already defined Google's mobile strategy for 2010.

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