Google Belly Flop: Sprint Snubs Nexus One, Too

Sprint and Verizon have opted to support newer, flashier devices -- the EVO 4G and the Droid Incredible, respectively -- that run on Google's Android platform and are manufactured by HTC, which also manufactures Nexus One but doesn't brand it.

That means that it isn't the OS or the manufacturer that's the problem for Verizon and Sprint, it's Google. Google's Nexus One has been dogged by customer service problems, low sales and skepticism for Google's Web store sales model since its inception.

Sprint previously had said it would carry the Nexus One in mid-March, though at the time it didn't confirm pricing or availability. With that announcement, Sprint was set to become the last of the major U.S. carriers Google needed to say that all four support Nexus One: a T-Mobile version was available close to launch, a Verizon version was announced as in the works in January, and earlier in March, AT&T had also confirmed plans to sell the phone.

In late April came news that Google had canceled its agreement with Verizon for Nexus One. Google confirmed as much in a blog post on April 26, choosing to downplay the canceled agreement, tout the Nexus One's launch with Vodafone in the United Kingdom, and instead referring U.S. customers to pre-order the HTC Incredible.

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Following in Verizon's footsteps, Sprint spokespeople confirmed to numerous sources Monday that Sprint would not be carrying the Nexus One after all, and will instead focus its energies on the HTC EVO 4G, touted as the first smartphone based on Sprint and Clearwire's 4G network.

Verizon, too, has flashier Android-based phones to throw its support behind. Verizon was the launch carrier for the Motorola Droid last fall, but this spring came HTC's Droid Incredible, which includes HTC's Sense interface and an 8-megapixel camera in addition to all the usual Android bells and whistles.

Google's brand won't exactly be tarnished as Nexus One fades into the background; Google itself indicated at Nexus One's launch that the Google Web store -- Google as e-tailer -- was the thing to focus on, and that the Nexus One was merely the latest and greatest Google Android phone.

But sales haven't reflected a robust e-tailing model for the search giant, even as the popularity of Android-based devices has continued to grow. Android devices galore made it on to CRN's list of the 10 Coolest Smartphones of 2009, and they'll likely dominate the list, and many others like it, this year.

With the growth of Android sizzling -- according to one estimate, Android OS-based phones outgunned iPhones in the first quarter of 2010 -- maybe it's time for Google to throw in the towel on Nexus One and focus on what it's really good at.