As you have undoubtedly heard by now, it appears Google is releasing its own cell phone next month called the Nexus One. Why is everyone so hyped about this? What does it mean to the average cell phone user? Follow along.
Evidence has mounted all weekend to the fact the long rumored Google Phone is finally real and will be called the Nexus One. While it appears from the photos that have leaked to just be the new HTC Passion that is due out on T-Mobile next month, it’s what under the hood that will make this a totally different beast, as well as how it is being sold.
The Nexus One will be running a copy of the Google Android operating system, which is nothing new since many phones now run it, but what will be different is that it won’t be fractured. As Android has gone out to the various carriers, they’ve all made little tweaks to it that have caused it to act differently on different handsets, and in turn this has made it hard for application developers to make sure their products work across all the different versions. So the copy that will run the Nexus One will probably be the truest version of the Android OS we’ve seen yet.
As for the way the phone is being sold, that is where things will get a bit odd. The rumors currently point to Google selling it themselves via the Web as an unlocked phone. If you are unfamiliar what this means in the term of phones, unlocked phones are not tied to any one carrier and you can walk in, sign up for their service, get a SIM card from them and your phone will work. Most phones have a carrier logo on them meaning you can’t take a BlackBerry you buy from Sprint and expect it to work on the T-Mobile network and vice versa.
While companies such as Nokia have sold unlocked phones before, none of them have had the name “Google” attached to them which is going to make this a highly desirable device.
The one problem we may encounter is in the price. If you have ever tried to buy a cell phone that isn’t attached to a contract, or before your upgrade is allowed, you know that smart phones cost more in the range of $500 – $600. No matter what Google does, unless they find a way to subsidize this phone, people won’t be dropping that much on it. One suspicion floating around the Web is that Google will sell it as a lower price with the expectation you will be clicking on ads on the phone. It’s how they bring you services like Gmail for free, so the company is well versed in the business model. Will it be enough to make the phone affordable? Only time will tell.
Quite possibly the Nexus One could end up being a game changer for the cell phone industry. A highly desirable phone not tied to any one carrier will make them compete for your business. I could easily see the carriers running “Nexus Pricing Specials” where they try to out do each other to woo the most Nexus users to their network. That is just my theory at this point, but if the phone takes off like I suspect it will, I can really imagine it happening.
My only regret is I got a new BlackBerry Tour in early August, but boy do I want to drool on a Nexus One.
[photo credit Cory O’Brien]