Google has just gotten back into the business of selling smartphones directly. The HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus is going to be for sale, unlocked, for $399 in a new "Devices" section of Google Play. Customers in the US could only get the GSM Galaxy Nexus previously from a "gray market" retailer, as only the Verizon and brand-new Sprint variants have been available to-date. Both of those cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, which makes the unlocked (read: contract-free) version only twice as expensive.
This may all sound a bit familiar if you've been following Google since it first introduced Android. The search giant originally only sold the Nexus One — the first "pure Google device" — in unlocked form directly from its website. It was a big move, as it marked the first time that Google sold physical goods. However, the store didn't last and was shut down in May of 2010, only months after it was opened. So, why is Google trying again? Google's Director of Digital Content, Jamie Rosenberg, told AllThingsD that "we've seen in the market that consumers having an increased desire for... the flexibility that comes with an unlocked phone." At $399, we wouldn't be surprised if even more people started getting interested in unlocked devices.