The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to run Google’s new Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system. As such, it’s one of the most hotly anticipated phones of the season, but you wouldn’t know it by Verizon and Samsung’s behavior. The phone has been a ghost here in the US, with new release date and reveal rumors popping up every day. Over the weekend though, Engadget and a few other sites spotted a Galaxy Nexus in Samsung’s Experience shop in Columbus Circle, New York City and spent some time with the device. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the shop earlier today to check it out, I discovered that the phones had been removed.
Wondering where the Galaxy Nexus was, I asked several employees at the shop, which doesn’t sell Samsung gear, but shows off all of the company’s latest products. The response I got was universal denial. All of the employees had a half smile because they knew what I was talking about, but all professed that they had no knowledge about why the phones had been removed. One employee told me that the decision came “straight from the top,” but refused to elaborate on exactly what that meant. I attempted to speak with the head of the shop, but he ducked out of the store through a back room after seeing me. From the sound of it, he was on the phone with a journalist like myself, or someone else, denying knowledge on exactly why the phone had been removed from the display.
So, I did not get to see the Galaxy Nexus today. The question I have is: why? Why were Samsung employees instructed to remove the phone from this shop, which doesn’t even sell devices? Did Samsung executives make the call, or is Verizon still trying to suppress information on the device?
Everything about the Galaxy Nexus’s US debut has been fishy. The device was originally rumored to be called the “Droid Nexus,” “Nexus Prime,” or “Droid Prime” and was set to be unveiled at CTIA in San Diego on Oct. 11, but its unveiling was delayed until Oct 19 and moved to Hong Kong. The delay was blamed on the death of Steve Jobs, but the fact that the phone has no Droid branding and Google and Samsung refused to name Verizon as the US carrier of the phone, was suspicous. The only word we got was that it would be LTE capable and hit shelves in America sometime in November. Well, November has come and gone and we still don’t have any information from Verizon on when and how we might get our hands on the Galaxy Nexus, or even if it will launch this year.
A press release from Verizon today labeled it as “anxiously awaited” and “coming soon,” yet the same press release labeled the new Droid Xyboard tablets from Motorola as coming “in December.” What’s the deal? Is the Galaxy Nexus even coming out in 2011? If not, why is Verizon being so mum?
There’s no predicting exactly why the major US carriers do anything except that it’s almost always to enhance profit and control their brand message. The Galaxy Nexus may be the best phone that has ever been released, but Verizon probably doesn’t want you to know about it because it might impact sales of the company’s Droid products like the Droid Razr or upcoming Droid 4. If consumers see those Android 2.3 phones next to an Android 4.0 phone, they’re likely to pick the Galaxy Nexus. I probably would.
Still, why the media suppression? The Galaxy Nexus may not be a Droid phone, but it could still draw a lot of interest to Verizon. And doesn’t the carrier owe it to those waiting for the phone to at least give some kind of timeline as to when we might expect it? I’ve been waiting to upgrade my phone for almost three months in anticipation of the Galaxy Nexus and I’m a mouse click away from switching to T-Mobile and ordering an unlocked version of the device, which is already available overseas. Hell, on T-Mobile, my bill could be a third of what I pay on Verizon ($35 instead of $95)
So what’s the deal, Verizon? It’s time to just let us know if we’re getting the Galaxy Nexus this year or not.
Update 12-06-2011: Google confirms that Verizon will block Google Wallet from the Galaxy Nexus.
(Image courtesy Droid-Life)