What’s Behind Google’s Nexus One Strategy?

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Google will reportedly offer the Nexus One by invitation only, a strange strategy at a time when Android is fighting Apple’s iPhone to gain market share

Engadget claims Google’s Nexus One smartphone will be available by invitation only.

EWEEK has already explored the idea that Google could let consumers purchase the Nexus One and pick their carrier over the Web, which many agreed is an attractive value proposition.

If Google plans to offer the device by invite-only at any point its begs the question: why? Why seed the Android 2.1-based Apple iPhone challenger to Google employees, some of whom gave gadget geeks opportunities to play with the phone, and then only selectively offer it?

Why whet appetites and not satisfy them? That is not the way a company trying to offer a successful Android phone should offer a market challenger. Engadget added:

“Our tipster doesn’t have information on how those invites are going to be determined, other than the fact that it’s Google doing the inviting — if we had to guess, current registered developers are a strong possibility — but the good news, we suppose, is that T-Mobile will apparently sell the phone directly at some to-be-determined point in the future.”

Google declined to validate this point in an e-mail to eWEEK, but there is no good news there. It’s been established that T-Mobile would offer the Nexus One for a couple weeks now.

The only logical explanation for why Google would take such an unusual approach to bringing the Nexus One to market would be that the device is in fact being sold unlocked and unsubsidised for its full $500 to $600. Perhaps Google wants to see how many people bite early in 2010 after the holiday season, but this is a risky gamble; offering a phone based on an open platform in an exclusive fashion is closed-minded.

It’s certainly not wise at a time when customers continue to weigh Android devices such as the Motorola Droid versus the iPhone. The market has not yet matured to the point where most consumers are strictly looking for the next Android or iPhone without mulling a device from the other company. In other words, the iPhone may be leading in marketshare and mindshare, but it has not won the smartphone war.

If Google was to release the Nexus One with any degree of exclusivity it could be quite damaging to not only Android, but Google’s reputation. But we digress, as Engadget also provided more useful specification on the Nexus One.

The device has a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and mechanical autofocus. It is thin, only 11.5 mm thick, and boasts 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM, 4GB microSD, which is expandable to 32GB. There is also a 3.7-inch WVGA AMOLED display that should rival the fine Droid screen. The device will support HSPA 900/1700/2100, 7.2Mbp, rendering it usable on T-Mobile 3G.

Also, see a five-minute video walk-through of the speedy Nexus One here, as well as this great hands-on review from Gizmodo, the best “review” yet of the device in the early going.

Everyone has heard how fast the Nexus One is, but Gizmodo confirmed this, and noted that there could be a 1GHz processor being inside, blowing away the 550MHz Arm A8 in the Droid.

Also, while the reviewer notes that the Nexus One screen is comparable to that of the Droid in size and resolution: “The colors are much more vibrant and the blacks are blacker, as evidenced by putting both side by side and hitting up various websites and loading various games.”

That’s a useful distinction for discerning buyers, assuming Google lets people buy the Nexus One. Are you listening Google?

Meanwhile, Simon Khalaf, CEO for mobile analytics firm Flurry told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that there will be 100,000 to 150,000 Android applications by the end of 2010.

The bad news for Android fans who love to stick it to the iPhone? The iPhone could have 300,000. The iPhone ecosystem boasts more than 100,000 apps, while the Android camp tops out around 16,000.

Customers win in that war. Why the quality of so many apps in either the Android or iPhone camp is questionable, the customers benefit from so many choices. At least, that’s how the adage goes, if you cotton to it.


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