Industry sources say Google is experimenting with its distribution model after releasing the previous Nexus model through a deal with carrier Vodafone in the UK.
Google’s initial distribution model, which sold the handset exclusively through its website, was heavily criticised by users who had nowhere to direct questions. Google found its website swamped with complaints and was eventually forced to stock the phone in carriers’ stores to overcome the problem.
Carphone Warehouse chief operating officer Andrew Harrison said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the Carphone Warehouse is working with Google to offer such a strong product exclusively to our customers.”
The Nexus S – the first phone to run on the latest version of Google’s Android platform – will feature a contoured screen that the firm says will fit the shape of a user’s face, as well as limiting glare.
It will also come with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows the phone to read information from “smart” objects by touching the handset to anything embedded with a special microchip.
The phone, manufactured by Samsung, will be available free with a contract. The Nexus One, built by HTC, failed to make a splash when it was released earlier this year, but Google’s Android software is now growing faster than phones powered by Apple or RIM.
Separately, Google yesterday launched its first eBookstore in the US, in a direct attempt to challenge Amazon and Apple’s dominance of the e-books market. It said its store included all of the current New York Times bestseller list, and offered 3m books for free. The store is expected in Europe next year.
The Nexus S is positioned as a "pure Google smartphone". It has similar specifications to the tablet Galaxy S, but runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). The deal with Carphone Warehouse underlines the importance of independent distributors beyond operators to Google. Despite the initial failure of the Nexus One, Google’s intent clearly remains unchanged. However, it seems like an opportunist move by Samsung, with only short-term gain potential, as more Android 2.3 devices are expected in January.