As the Nexus 5 begins to roll out in the United States -- available for online order via Google Play and Amazon and in T-Mobile and Sprint stores -- several published reports said demand for the basic black 16 gigabyte and 32 GB versions have challenged the supply in India.
The same device, the first to run Google's updated Android operating system version 4.4 (KitKat) quickly sold out when it was first offered on Google Play following its Oct. 31 release. The cost is $349 for the 16 GB version and $399 for 32 gigabytes of storage. T-Mobile offers the device for $41.99 down and installments totaling $449.00. A T-Mobile representative told us Wednesday the device is in stock. Sprint offers the Nexus 5 for $49.99 with a two-year voice and contract.
Holiday Shopping Season Is Here
Google did not respond to our request for comment about whether supplies for the device would be sufficient for the busy holiday season.
But Gartner Research wireless analyst Ken Dulaney said it was hard to judge if there was a supply problem based on the vague reports. "You have to define sold out," Dulaney said. "From an inventory of how many units? The term is a loaded one."
Dulaney does not see the Nexus 5, sold unlocked by Google and Amazon, performing as well as other top devices such as the iPhone 5s and Samsung's Galaxy 4. "Other manufacturers have more trusted brand names," he said. "I have always found the Nexus devices, which are [Android] operating system launch devices, are not as good as the manufacturer's mainline products."
Unlocked phones tend to do better in emerging markets, where prepaid phones are more common, while U.S. users tend to take better advantage of subsidized or $0 down models from carriers.
Manufactured by South Korea's LG, Google's latest flagship smartphone, has a nearly 5-inch display, up slightly from its predecessor, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz , up from the 1.512 GHz Snapdragon S4 on the Nexus 4.
Its 8-megapixel camera promises to produce clearer, brighter shots with optical image stabilization and it's slimmer and lighter than earlier mdoels, 4.59 ounces and 8.59 millimeters (0.3 inches) thin.
Reception of Nexus devices has vastly improved from the initial launch of Google's first branded smartphone, the Nexus One, made by HTC, and sold via an online store that was the precursor to Google Play in 2009.
The release of KitKat and the Nexus 5 comes as Google's Android is reaching new heights of popularity.
According to the latest figures by IDC Research, Android in the third quarter of this year pushed past the 80 percent mark in global market share for the first time. The research company attributed that success to a wide range of vendors. Smartphone giant Samsung Electronics, for example, accounted for 39.9 percent of all Android shipments for the quarter. Other vendors, however, saw single-digit market share or less than one percent.