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Sprint Passes on the Google Nexus One

Back in March, Sprint announced it was going to carry the Google Nexus One, the so-called “superphone” Google thought might break the iPhone’s long-standing lock on mindshare in the smartphone market. Now, Sprint has backed down from that promise, opting instead to make room in its product lineup for the HTC EVO 4G. All mentioned of the Nexus One going to Sprint have been removed from Google’s Nexus One site.

The move follows Verizon Wireless quietly passing on the Nexus One, opting instead for the HTC Incredible, a near-sibling of the Nexus One with a beefier camera and improved trackpad.

All told, the news may not be good for Google’s Nexus One handset—which will now have even more trouble meeting its sales projections now that two major U.S. carriers have passed on it. However, the overall prognosis for Google’s Android platform remains quiet positive: both the devices that Sprint and Verizon Wireless has selected over the Nexus One run Android, and the mobile operating system’s market momentum seems to be gaining: according to NPD, Android devices outsold the iPhone last quarter.

In part, Google’s online-only sales plan for the Nexus One may be hampered by the U.S. mobile market, which is fractured by carriers operating incompatible technologies and frequencies. Verizon Wireless and Sprint rely on CDMA technologies, while AT&T and T-Mobile rely on GSM running on different frequencies. Versions of the Nexus One are available for AT&T and T-Mobile, but the complications may befuddle users trying to buy a phone through Google. In Europe—where GSM is standardized—Google could have an easier time marketing the Nexus One, although at least one operator (Vodafone) is selling the device in its own stores, rather than as a selectable carrier through Googles Web store.