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Google's Nexus About-Face: Online to Retail

Google's Nexus One will soon be a retail-only device, an abrupt shift from Google's original strategy

Well, that didn't last long.

Less than a half year after announcing plans to market smartphones straight to consumers buying through its web store. Google is going to discontinue web sales of its Nexus One. The company explained in a blog post that the idea failed to catch on with a mass audience. "It's remained a niche channel for early adopters," Google Engineering Vice President Andy Rubin.

The company's new strategy: use its web store as a showcase for "a variety of Android phones available globally."

Rubin added that "it's clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone."

That last line has always been the big unknown with the sale of high tech gadgetry over the Internet. By way of historical comparison, consider this: Before the mail order market for personal computers began booming in the early and mid-1990s, most of the (so-called) experts gave direct sales little chance of catching on. They argued that computers were too complex and required the hand holding only authorized computer dealers offered.

History would prove them wrong. But is the prediction being borne out for smaller, consumer devices like smartphones where individual look-and-feel is so important? (On Monday, Sprint said it would no longer support Google's idea for a web-only sales model. Earlier, Verizon had also dropped out.)

According to News.com, Google declined comment on future plans for marketing and advertising or whether other carriers were planning to come on board. You can read the rest of that report here.

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