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Google nixes Nexus One on America's largest wireless network?

Due Spring 2010

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Updated Mountain View appears to have backtracked on plans to offer a version of the Googlephone for America's largest wireless provider.

Currently, the Nexus One is only available for GSM-based networks, but when the device was launched just after the New Year, Google said it would deliver a CDMA incarnation for Verizon Wireless, the country's largest provider, with roughly 90 million subscribers.

But on Monday, Google quietly changed the language on its Nexus One website to indicate that a Verizon incarnation is no longer imminent. Since it was launched, the site has said that a Verzion Nexus One would arrive in "Spring 2010," while pointing users to Verizon for other Android phones. Now, it merely points those users to the Droid Incredible, an HTC-manufactured Android phone due at the end of April.

"For Verizon's network, you can buy the Droid Incredible by HTC, a powerful Android phone and similarly feature-packed cousin of the Nexus One," the site now reads.

Google did not immediately respond to our requests for comment on this particular issue. But it's worth noting that HTC also manufactures the Nexus One - and that the Incredible's launch is right around the corner.

When Google unveiled the Nexus One and began selling the device directly to netizens, Verizon and Motorola played like they were pleased. But according to some, the pair were rather peeved, having spent a reported $100 million promoting the Motorola-manufactured Droid, a two-month-old Android device fashioned in tandem with Google.

Google had long said it would never compete with its Android partners, but there it was, competing with its Android partners.

Since then, the Nexus One hasn't exactly sold like hotcakes. And today, Vodafone - the UK-based carrier that owns 45 per cent of Verizon - announced that it would be selling the Nexus One from its retail stores. The carrier is now taking orders, and the phone officially goes on sale on April 30.

SFR, the French operator owned by Vivendi and Vodafone, has also announced that it will sell the phone through its retailer shops. This makes the first time the Nexus One has been available outside of Google's website. "We have decided that the best and fastest way to get Nexus One into the hands of European consumers is through our partners,” Google said, according to The FT and other sources.

The statement the company shares with us is slightly different: "Our partners have played an amazing role in making Android successful, and the Android ecosystem has grown faster than our most optimistic expectations of even just a few months ago," it reads. "By working with Vodafone and other operators in Europe, we’ll be able to get more Nexus One phones to more people more quickly."

But however Google chooses to phrase it, this is a significant climb-down for the company, which had touted its Nexus One online store a revolutionary new channel for mobile phone sales.

Vodafone is selling the original GSM incarnation of the phone. The inaugural Nexus One supported four GSM frequencies - 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 1900MHz - and three 3G/UMTS bands: 2100MHz, AWS, and 900MHz. That covered most GSM providers, but it left out the 3G networks operated by AT&T in the US and Rogers in Canada. But Google is now offering a 850-MHz UTMS version for these 3G networks as well.

On Google's website, the phone is sold unlocked for $529, and currently, the Deutsche Telekom AG-owned T-Mobile USA is the only provider offering a subsidized device alongside a wireless plan. With a two-year commitment to T-Mobile, you can have the device for $179. Beginning April 30, Vodafone will give you the phone for free if you agree to a two-year contract with a monthly payment of at least £35. ®

Update: This story has been updated to show that Google is now offering an 850-MHz version of the Nexus One for AT&T's 3G network and other similar 3G networks. It has also been updated with additional information about the sale of the Nexus One through retail stores, including the Google quote from The FT and the quote it shared with The Reg.

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