Since launch, Android has descended into a confusing soup of hardware manufacturers, carriers and software versions, while Google has watched, helplessly. Starting today, they're taking Android back: Google's selling Android phones through a unified store, starting with the Nexus One.
Aside from the best-in-class hardware, the potential for newness with the Nexus One (hands-on here) was centered around how they'd sell it. And they have taken a fresh approach with the Nexus One, to an extent: This is the first Android phone sold directly by Google. They've opened a new store, from which they plan to sell Android phones from a variety of carriers and manufacturers—Verizon is up next, presumably with the Droid and the Nexus One—and which will serve as a single, unified storefront for basically every Android phone on the market. It'll be a way for people who want to buy one of those "google phones" they've heard about—by which they mean an Android phone—from a storefront that lets them compare not just hardware, but carrier and pricing options.
On its own, Google.com/phone isn't a game-changer, but its a sign that Google's aware of how fragmentation—not just in software, but in brand identity—could pull Android down, and that they're willing to do something about it. [Google]