By: Hillel Fuld
I feel like I am writing new posts all the time about phones that are supposed to beat the iPhone at becoming the world’s most advanced mobile platform. Today’s candidate is the new and extremely hyped Google phone or the Nexus One.
First of all, let me say that in all seriousness, Apple has taught us that there is a lot to a name. I am not saying that a phone cannot be popular if its name is not catchy, but I just find it harder to picture a scenario in which consumers get excited about their new Nexus One. iPhone just works so much better. I think Google still has a lot to learn from Apple in terms of branding.
Also, when the original iPhone came out, Apple was not the one to generate the hype. In fact, Apple was actually extremely careful about leaks to the press regarding their mysterious entry into the smartphone arena. Google, on the other hand, are giving out the Nexus One to all Google employees and allowing them to tweet about its existence as well as share it with friends to play with.
Now, I am not sure if this is something that we should praise Google for, or maybe it is a clear indication that the phone will not be an iPhone-like success. If they were confident that the Nexus One was so great, would they really be spending so much time trying to generate buzz?
So, the latest rumors about the Nexus One is that Google is partnering with T Mobile on the release, but it will be unlocked to all GSM networks. I am sure I am not telling the folks over at Google something they have not already discovered, but wasn’t that Nokia’s model for the US? Didn’t the various Nokia models come unlocked and unsubsidized by the providers? Now, there is no denying Nokia’s success in the mobile space, but let there be no misunderstandings, Nokia is failing and failing hard in the US. Just last week, they closed multiple stores across the US.
I am not comparing Google to Nokia, but I am not sure this is a smart move on the part of Google. In addition, the timing in my opinion might be a little off. With the App Store exceeding the 100,000 apps mark, and the buzz surrounding the next generation iPhone just beginning, I’m pretty sure Google does not want to get into that battle. After all, it is safe to assume that the Nexus one will work with the Android Market, which last time I checked, stands on a laughable number of 15,000 apps. 15,000 might not seem too shabby, but compared to the iPhone’s 100,000, it is no competition.
The Nexus One will have a Snapdragon processor, which is significantly more powerful than the iPhone’s, but I am pretty sure no one has ever complained about the iPhone’s speed, so this will not be Google’s strong selling point.
No information I have come across discusses the Nexus One’s other features or hardware, but the pictures floating around indicate that it will be almost identical to the HTC Passion. It is a good looking phone, but again, its looks will not turn it into any kind of iPhone killer.
So what is all the buzz about? The answer is simple. Google is making a phone! This should not be confused with Android, which is software only and is simply used in devices manufactured by companies like HTC, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. Rumor has it, things will be different with the Nexus One. Google is supposedly involved with every aspect of this phone including its hardware. This is of course a first for Google, and it reminds me of when Apple entered the mobile market.
Of course, the big advantage that the Nexus One will have over the iPhone and any other mobile platform for that matter, is its openness. The phone is not released yet, but it is pretty much a given that anything and everything about this phone will smell of “open”. However, speaking from experience, that will not be a determining factor in the phone’s success. Yes, there are those few consumers that will buy it as a protest against Apple’s jail-like experience, both in terms of iPhone OS and its app approval process. However, speaking from experience, consumers like to leave protests to politics, and when it comes to their mobile phone, user experience is what matters most.
The word on the street is that Google is deciding on every aspect of the Nexus One’s user experience, which might mean we will have a usability winner on our hands. However, combined with its 100,000 apps and its superb UI, I do not see any single device beating the iPhone at its own game. What the Nexus might beat are the Android phones.
Like I have said on many occasions, talking about the Android platform beating the iPhone is ridiculous. Android is a platform that is being used by a growing number of mobile devices, while the iPhone is one phone. However, there is what to talk about when it comes the Nexus/iPhone competition, in the same way there is room for debate regarding the Droid/iPhone game. However, seeing as the Droid, the Android OS, and the Nexus One are all designed by Google, it seems to me that the only one Google is competing against, is themselves. I am no business development expert, but that does not seem like the best strategy for a company to take.
In conclusion, the Nexus One is not out yet, so there are still a lot of question marks surrounding its capabilities and characteristics, but one thing is for sure, Google will have to develop one hell of a device for it to even affect the growing number of iPhone users around the world.
On the flip side, the fact that Google is entering another industry, and that this once small company that had a simple Web search engine now has departments that offer services in almost any aspect of our virtual lives, is a significant development. How this will affect the future of the mobile world is yet to be seen, but when Google enters a market, it is safe to assume that market is changed forever.