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Google to Shut Down Its Online Phone Store

Less than six months after introducing the Nexus One phone, Google has announced it is planning to shut down its Web-based phone store, replacing it with a general showcase for Android-based devices.

When Google announced its Nexus One phone back in January, it also took the wraps off a Web-based store that was to follow an innovative model: instead of drawing consumers to mobile carriers from which they would select a phone, users would go to Google to select an Android device, and Google would then present a list of available carriers and plans to match the device. However, while the Android platform has seem remarkable growth in the last six months—surpassing the iPhone in sales during the first quarter—Google’s phone store has not. So Google is going to stop selling handsets via its Web-based store, opting instead to work with mobile carriers to bring the Nexus one to consumers.

“While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not,” wrote Google engineering VP Andy Rubin, in the company blog. “It’s remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from.”

When Google launched the Nexus One, it was initially unprepared to handle support inquiries from customers experiencing difficulty with 3G reception from T-Mobile (which was initially the only carrier supporting the device)—Google initially offered no in-person tech support, instead attempting to do the entire job via email and online support forums. Google quickly ramped up its support offerings…but now the company will be getting out of the business of selling mobile phones entirely.

Google says its plans for the Nexus One involve emulating the sales model it has in Europe: setting up retail distribution agreements with individual mobile operators and retail channels. Once that’s done, Google plans to convert its Web-based phone store into a general showcase for Android phones available around the world.

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