Google's Nexus One: The most popular unpopular phone

The Nexus One is proving popular with developers.

Google's Nexus One phone – yes, the same one that the company stopped selling via it's online store last month – is now so popular among developers that it has sold out.

Google's Tim Bray, in a brief blog post titled "A Little Too Popular," wrote:

"A couple of weeks ago, we arranged that registered developers could buy an unlocked Nexus One via their publisher page in Android Market. We think it's a good development platform and a nice phone. Apparently, you agree. Somewhat too many of you, in fact; we blew through the (substantial) initial inventory in almost no time, and they're back-ordered from HTC, who are doing a pretty good job of managing runaway success amid a worldwide AMOLED shortage. Everyone appreciates that it's important to the platform to get phones in the hands of developers, so we're working hard on re-stocking the shelves; stand by."

Google opened up the year by introducing the Android-powered Nexus One smartphone with much fanfare. Nexus One, now sold in New Zealand through Vodafone, features a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 3.7-inch 800 x 480 pixel screen.

Google even got an unsolicited endorsement from the Father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, who called the Nexus One "a winner."

But the phone's introduction was otherwise followed by confusion, as buyers couldn't figure out who to call for technical support issues, and Google took heat for its overall strategy of essentially competing with phone makers who were using its software.

Shortly after the phone was introduced in the US, Google was hit with a quick punch when early Nexus One users reported a widespread outage on T-Mobile's network.  Google was even slapped with a lawsuit by the family of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick over the use of the name Nexus One.

Sales were reportedly feeble, with mobile research firm Flurry saying in March that Google had sold just 135,000 Nexus Ones in the first two months or so vs. the million or so Motorola Droids and Apple iPhones sold following their rollouts.

Meanwhile, US carriers such as Sprint and Verizon said they wouldn't support it.

In May, Google pulled the plug on its Nexus One Android web store, which was announced at the same time as the phone and described as a one-stop shop for phone buyers. By July, it had sold its last Nexus Ones to the general public (although many carriers around the world continue to sell the phone through their stores).

Earlier this month Google announced it would still make the Nexus One available to registered Android developers for US$529.  The phones come unlocked so that developers can experiment with apps before rolling them out to the public.

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