When they released the Nexus one they said they'd happy if they sold 150,000 units but they have sold updwards of half a million.
Not to bad for a failure, specially considering that Google didn't really care about selling it what they wanted was a good phone with vanilla andriod they could show off.
And there I think they had a great success, when the Nexus one was released media pundits were beginning to write about Android as an 'also-ran' but with the Nexus, the HTC Desire, which is pretty much the same phone, and the droids, now it is Apple and Android crushing the RIM, Nokia and, specially, Microsoft.
On the other hand, the idea of selling phones in their own site was a complete failure, that's where the 'carriers rule' comes from. Pity, a place were carriers would have to compete for our buisness on clear terms would have been great for us.
But anyway, my nexus one should be good for at least three years, let's hope there is something as open by then. I bought it unlocked from ebay.es for a lot less than 500 euros in case someone is interested.