Google’s Nexus One

Has Google bitten off more than they can chew with the Nexus One smartphone?

Let me catch you up a bit on what is fast becoming the biggest news in the smartphone world. The Nexus One is the codename for Google’s latest Android device. It’s a touchscreen device sporting a massive 800×480 pixel 3.7 inch screen, a 5MP auto-focus camera, 512MB on board memory (plus a micro-SD slot), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HSDPA/HSUPA fast data systems, voice to text feature (for those of us who hate touchscreen typing), a 1GHz processor running the Android operating system at version 2.1 and a kitchen sink. So far, so meeting the standard for a powerful smartphone, but that’s not what’s making waves in the industry. The thing that has got everyone sitting up and taking notice is that Google have decided to primarily sell the phone SIM-free, bypassing the networks and their restrictive contracts and custom firmware obligations that manufacturers have thrust upon them, and have set a competitive 200-300 Euro price on it.

It’s almost unheard of for a phone company to do this, especially with a big product release like the Nexus One, yet still Google are taking things further than just selling the phone SIM-free. The company has specified that, while users can put any SIM card they want into the device and start using it, they’ve setting the phone up to primarily work over Wi-Fi, with calls being made via VOIP systems such as Skype. This is a big blow to the networks as it means that the phone can be used entirely without them having any involvement and, more importantly, without them making any money. More than once a company has released a phone that bypasses the network completely, but these were always designed to be used with a SIM-card and most of them were from new start-ups whose enterprise usually failed. But none of those companies were Google, and in this case that’s an important factor to take into consideration. Google is massive. I doubt there’s anyone in the world who hasn’t heard of that company, and it’s because of this that Android gained such a massive following so quickly (it helps that it’s a very competent operating system, but only techies really care about that). Google’s name carries weight, and also more than a little money. Where normally the networks would do their best to bully and cajole the company into putting it’s phone on their networks, Google actually has enough money to laugh at their efforts, and enough of a well-known brand to be able to succeed without needing to bow down to the networks themselves.

I have to wonder if it was Google’s plan all along to go for a two-pronged attack on the mobile world – first cosying up to the networks for a year or so until word had spread about Android, then to start releasing their own branded versions of Android exclusively without a network contract while still allowing others to release Android models through the networks? All the current evidence seems to point that way, and I can’t help but wonder how other manufacturers will react if this succeeds, and if they too will start bypassing the networks who’ve held entirely too much power for far too long.

Expect the Nexus One to have it’s official announcement on Tuesday. If further specifications are released I’ll put them up here.

I started this post by asking if Google has bitten off more than they can chew with the Nexus One but I’ll end it by wondering this: have the mobile networks bitten off more than they can chew with Google?


24 thoughts on “Google’s Nexus One

  1. :yes: That's my type of a phone. Here in India most people buy SIM free phones, but some advanced phones like htc Hero are network bound.

  2. Exciting! But probably more than most will pay in a lump sum, and the iPhone has really established itself now. I mean, everybody here has them now. But I'll buy one.

  3. It seems that people in Google has realised that people, in general, are fed enough of network companies who has limiting conditions, and usually too expensive offers for lower middle and low class. On the other side, middle class is the biggest consumption body of their products and in time of economic crisis everyone want something that is non-limiting. Because it means cheaper, even though the price of a device is not cheap at all. But is affordable and this is a card people from Google are playing. Without it, they wouldn`t have a chance to stand with big players on a scene, no matter how good device is.

  4. Whoa, the specs so far are amazing. Hopefully with the release of this phone, others will follow suit, perhaps. It'd be great to have a good selection of phones that don't need a network to run.

  5. It's a GSM phone so it's actually built more for the world than for America's networks, although I suppose it could be released there.I've seen those files a while back, and wouldn't be surprised if it was Google leaking it themselves for publicity. If it's true then they'll be releasing the same phone through T-Mobile the same way regular handset manufacturers do, but I'll just bet they sell much more through their own site off-contract.

  6. Strange, though, considering the denied any plans to do hardware not too long ago. I presume that it'll come out in America many a month before we get our paws on it. It's great news, though, the H.T.C. mobiles are just too damned expensive, especially bearing in mind that the get the OS for free.

  7. Kiran, all phones in India are SIM-free, even those on contract. Unfortunately your region doesn't get quite as many phones with english speaking firmwares as elsewhere, or I'd be importing a load of phones.

  8. Mine's a competent doorstop at the moment, at least until I can get it reflashed. Oh, there's a new firmware due out this month which adds quite a bit to the device, most notably a new web browser version and full kinetic scrolling.

  9. Smooooth. I'm going to wait at least until next authumn before buying a new phone either way.Sorry about your bricked phone, BTW.

  10. At least now I can warn people on early firmware to keep it charging while installing things. :up: If Samsung would stop giving me the runaround I'd have it fixed by now. :irked:

  11. The OS has it's moments, particularly it's Synergy system, but it's not a patch on the older Palm operating systems in most ways and comes off as a one trick pony because of it. Give it a few more iterations to mature and it may become a player. Ha, that last bit is exactly what I said about Android and look at it now.

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