As you pour over our hands-on coverage of Android's new favorite son, consider that not all of us here at Android Community got a Galaxy Nexus hand-delivered from a red-clad Verizon cherub. We only have one review unit, so the rest of us (being just as rabid about Android as most of you are) went out and picked one up at retail. Verizon's rollout for the Galaxy Nexus is rather indicative of the attitude they've displayed towards the device so far, so we thought we'd share some thoughts.
Driving to my nearest Verizon corporate store, there's nothing on the outside to indicate that a major phone release is taking place today. That impression extends to the inside of the store, where you've got to hunt among the various smartphones and tablets to find the Galaxy Nexus. My store had a single demonstration unit available. Since there was a line of people (or more accurately a cloud of people, thanks to Verizon's kiosk-based service system) waiting to buy the phone, there was also a line of people trying out the demo device.
The Galaxy Nexus shared a section with the HTC Rezound, DROID RAZR and DROID Incredible 2. There were two small banners featuring the Nexus, one in which it shared the exposure with the HTC Rezound, and another where it got equal billing with the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play - a phone that's been available for a year, and is currently free with a new contract.
In comparison with the iPhone 4 and the Motorola DROID RAZR, the Galaxy Nexus barely registered a retail presence. Both of the former phones has an entire section of the store to themselves, with full displays and four demo units in their section. Nowhere in the store was the Galaxy Nexus promoted on its own. There were about a dozen people in my store, all there to pick up a Galaxy Nexus on the very first day.
On the plus side, the store had about 40 units available, a solid number for any phone launch. The employees were knowledgeable, and the man handling my purchase was positively excited - he's a big fan of unencumbered Android as well. But for new customers who didn't know about the Galaxy Nexus, there was no pomp and circumstance. Any new, uninformed smartphone buyer looking for a high-end device would almost certainly walk away with a RAZR, Rezound or iPhone.
What does this indicate? Combined with Verizon's downright apathetic marketing, almost non-existent communication and lack of any sort of pre-order process, this tells me that Verizon Wireless just isn't that excited about the Galaxy Nexus. They'd much rather you buy almost any other phone, even lower-specc'd, cheaper devices like the XPERIA Play. Considering all the events leading up to the very first Nexus phone on Verizon, owners may want to treasure it: it may indeed be the last.
I'll add this disclaimer: my experiences are only at one store. Other stores or markets may feature the Galaxy Nexus more prominently, especially at second-party retailers. If you'd like to add your own observations on your purchase experience, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. And stay tuned - we'll have plenty of coverage on Verizon's Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich, leading up to our full review.