Flurry says Google sold 80,000 Nexus Ones in January, after selling 20,000 during week one, the Wall Street Journal reports. Those figures aren’t official; they’re based on mobile app usage by newly-detected phones, divided by the types of phones detected. The numbers suggest that Nexus One sales haven’t significantly sped up or slowed down over the course of a month.
By comparison, Flurry says Apple’s iPhone sold 600,000 units in its first month, and Motorola’s Droid sold 575,000 units (an interesting comparison in itself).
But don’t call the Nexus One a failure. There are way too many factors that make comparisons with other Android phones, and of course the iPhone, unfair.
When the iPhone debuted, the market was quite different. Yes, the iPhone cost more than today’s subsidized smartphones, but it was also a unique product. Today, there are lots of consumer-friendly superphones to choose from, including Motorola’s Droid and Cliq, Palm’s Pre and Pixi, and of course the Nexus One. As for comparisons with the Droid, that phone also had the advantage of launching during the holiday season, a popular time to buy new phones.
That’s not to say the Nexus One couldn’t do anything to improve its sales. As I’ve said before, Nexus One marketing — little more than an intermittent Web ad and a YouTube channel — has nothing on the aggressive campaigns for the iPhone and the Droid, both of which have strong images that appear in television ads and billboards. There’s also the issue of online-only sales, turning off anyone who wants to try before they buy. And until the Nexus One becomes subsidized through Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint instead of only T-Mobile, the potential customer base is limited.
But this is vintage Google. The company will sit on a product and let it incubate for years, making little tweaks here and there until the team is ready to take it out of beta. The Nexus One’s not a beta test, but between slow initial sales and early technical problems, it seems like one. I’m still waiting for Google’s mobile phone revolution, but it could take a while.