Why Google Shouldn't Worry About Its Dismal Nexus One Sales

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Weak opening sales of Google's Nexus One phone spawned a spate of panic stories about whether the vaunted Google Phone had already failed. This was more than a little ridiculous. The Google Nexus One debuted on T-mobile, which has less than half the market share of Verizon or AT&T. Even adjusting for that, Nexus One sales were pretty anemic -- 135,000 units sold in the first 74 days, compared to 1 million for iPhone and 1.05 million for Motorola's Droid. But let's keep our eyes on the big picture here. Google is still a software company dabbling in hardware. And its mobile smart phone software is very, very good.

Now that Nexus One is graduating to Sprint, AT&T and Verizon in the next few weeks, I expect a surge in sales. But even if the Nexus One fails to take off, it still has a success story in the wireless market with its Android mobile operating software, which now powers 7.5% of all smart-phones, compared to Apple's 16% share of the market.

At the end of the day, the important question to answer is: are these phones, and the OS that moves them, any good? Jim Fallows thinks the Nexus One is a fantastic smart phone. As the proud owner of a new, healthy zero-pound 4.23-ounces Droid Eris (Verizon), I have to agree with Jim.

Eris doesn't have the iPhone's touchscreen performance, or app store. But it's still a great phone on a superior network with some catchy gizmos: weather updates that track your location; seamless integration with Gmail and Gchat; access to seven alternative home screens with a flick of a finger (one screen is an iPhone-esque app array; another is a Twitter feed; another is my most recent work email...). The best part for me is the uber-useful "notifications" menu that you can pull down from the top bar, which lists all new emails, Gchats, missed calls, voice mails and Twitter mentions in a handy stream. I can select each notification I want to check out and immediately bounce off the page to Twitter, or Gmail; or roll up the screen to read my mentions and email later; or I can clear it all out in a touch. It's handy, non-intrusive, and does the thing great technology should do: it makes me wonder how I ever managed life before the Droid Eris.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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