Sources have reported to PhoneNews.com that both Sprint and Verizon had serious reservations about Nexus One’s future software updates, enough that both CDMA carriers may have rejected the devices on their own accord.
One of the big differences about Nexus One is that Google controls the firmware for the device. It has been a key asset to Google in helping make the company mobile; with all development staff sharing a common mule device that can be used in public, they can gain public comments in real time about stuff in development. And, it will be the first device to get Android 2.2, Froyo.
And, Froyo is what appears to have sent a chill down the spines of both Verizon and Sprint. Android 2.2 adds built-in Phone As Modem support, free of any carrier offerings for the service. For Google, this is fine; they already offer PdaNet and other tethering apps on the Android Market, and have told the carriers that since Android is open, that isn’t changing.
However, because Android is an open platform, Sprint and Verizon can tell device makers that they either need to strip the tethering services, or modify them to verify if a customer has a Phone As Modem or BroadBand Access Connect plan on their account. Nexus One wasn’t going to compromise on that.
It may have been easy for Google to opt out, and simply remove tethering on Nexus One. But, that would have meant compromises that the company has already dealt with pain and scars in the past. Without being a device that has all of Android 2.2’s features, Google lost their benefit of Nexus One being open. Faced with sluggish Nexus One sales, and carrier-supported alternatives, Google appears to have pulled the plug on the CDMA venture.
However, sources report that tethering alone wasn’t the problem. But, rather, both Sprint and Verizon’s fear that Google would continue on this path of adding features to Nexus One that sent a chilling effect (or, rather, customers running from carrier-branded phones to unlocked devices). Despite promises from Verizon for years now, their 3G network remains closed, and Sprint has yet to enact class action settlement terms that require them to do the same.
The real question now stands, if Google will try again on CDMA with a successor, or hand the hardware market back to Android device manufacturers.