Google's Nexus One Hits Sales Bumps

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Google unveiled last month the hugely hyped Nexus One smart-phone. The device was supposed to revolutionize smart phones the way the Apple's tablet is going to change the tablet game. Unfortunately, says Omar Gallaga, of the Austin American-Statesman, reception to the Nexus One has been tame.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Like the Apple tablet, Googles Nexus One smartphone was the source of considerable excitement ahead of its release earlier this month. But whats happened since could service an object lesson for any company riding a wave of high tech expectations.

Omar Gallaga joins us now, as he does most Mondays. Hes the technology culture reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. And Omar, when Google introduce the Nexus One smartphone earlier this month, it was build as a super phone that could go head to head with the iPhone. How is it selling?

Mr. OMAR GALLAGA (Technology Culture Reporter, Austin American-Statesman): Well, not as well as expected considering all the hype and the reporting that people did on it. One estimate put it at 20,000 phones sold in the first week, which sounds pretty good. But compare that to the 1.6 million Apple iPhone 3Gs that were sold last summer, and the 250,000 Droid phones that were sold late last year in the first week.

So, really Google has not sold like gangbusters, at least not early on. And I think part of that might be because they are sounding exclusively online. You cant go to a store and buy a Nexus One phone. I think thats part of the issue is people want to hold the phone in their hand and check it out for themselves. And also, you know, an unlocked version of it is over $500, which is a bit steep considering all the competitions thats going on right now in the smartphone market.

SIEGEL: And those who have bought the Nexus One, what do they say about it?

Mr. GALLAGA: Well, the phone itself has gotten pretty good reviews, but there have been some problems, most importantly with customer support. Google is not a hardware company. Theyre not used to fielding calls on things that dont work hardware-wise. So, people are being bounced back between T-Mobile which is right now the only provider that uses the Nexus One. And with Google, there have been some 3G issues with Internet connectivity that people have reported, even touch screen issues.

And also, theres the issue of double termination fees. If you break your contract with T-Mobile on the Nexus One, you not only get slapped with a termination fee from T-Mobile, but also one from Google. So, a lot of issues with this launch that has not been exactly as smooth as you might expect from a company like Google.

SIEGEL: Omar, theres an obvious gadget battle going on here between Google and Apple. Google enhanced the Nexus One ahead of the big Consumer Electronic Show. Now, Apple is poised to announce not only its new tablet mid-week, but rumor has it that its rolling out even more. Fill us in on the rumors.

Mr. GALLAGA: Right. Apart from this rumored tablet, Apple usually rolls out quite a bit of products when they do these big events. And some of the things people are most excited about that there are still, you know, obviously rumors are a new iPhone version which definitely - the last three years weve seen new versions of the iPhone every summer, so that definitely will be on track for Apple. And this would have a 4.0 version of the iPhone OS. So, people are very excited about what new features might be in existing iPhones and this theoretical new iPhone that would probably debut in the summer.

And theres the big rumor of whether this phone might even be in the Verizon network that AT&T might lose its exclusivity to carry the iPhone. So thats one rumor, and then there is the rumor about MacBook Pro that may have new hardware from Intel, new faster processors from that line. And also a new version of iLife which definitely goes along with Apples pattern of introducing a new version of this software that comes bundled with every Mac every year.

SIEGEL: Omar, thanks for bringing us up to date.

Mr. GALLAGA: Thanks for having me, Robert. And well have links to all this information and all the tablet rumors on the All Tech Considered blog at npr.org/alltech.

SIEGEL: Okay. Omar Gallaga covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman and for All Tech Considered.

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