Google Phone Nexus One – A Pawn In The Mobile Chess Game

image Google is introducing the Google gPhone or as the official names goes – The Google Nexus One.  Engadget has the definitive review while others are chiming in here, here, and here.

Google is playing the open card by forcing fast innovation in a developer focused way – similar to what made Microsoft successful in the 80s and 90s – creating a future benefit incentive or rising tide floats all boats.  Apple in dark contrast is taking a completely different approach stay controlled and lead with economic incentives – money – their tide has risen.

And This Means What?

Google Nexus and Android goes beyond a me-too device. Google having its’ own phone  is strategic. It’s just one piece of the user environment (aka the edge software) that Google needs to own to have a fully functional Android operating system. It also allows them to better negotiate with handset makers and carriers  as they say it gives Google BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement).

By making Android open source Google sends a message to the army of software developers that the Google platform is worthy to develop ontop of.  Also, Google garners the support from a growing and rabid community of developers while deflect any policy and antitrust discussions.  Bottom line: the best move Google can play as a new player facing a dominant competitor – Apple.  Will Apple blink?  Don’t think so.

From a platform perspective Android (now Google Nexus One) as an open source development project increases the range of devices that the software can be ported to.  Google Nexus One is a pawn in the Android operating system mission on both desktop, mobile, and soon to be set-top.

Initial Reactions

Google seeded the phone with so called influencers – this is called the “puppy dog close” – give a puppy to a kid and they fall in love with it – give a blogger early access and they write great things about it.  Smooth move of the month for Google – again the opposite of what Apple does.

Most people who have had units are very much very positive on the new Google phone.

[Editor’s Note: I have a complaint into the Google PR department lodging my official complaint on not getting one.  Update: Google was very kind to say that I have a Nexus One gPhone eval unit waiting for me so I drove down the freeway 2 exits and picked it up at the Googleplex – THANKS Google-mrh]

Engadget Review

image Here are some highlights from the Engadget review of the Google Nexus One smartphone.

Never mind the Nexus One itself for a moment — there’s a bigger picture here, and it might spell a fundamental change for the direction of Android as a platform.  In a word, Google is plunging head-first into the dangerous game Microsoft has adamantly sought to avoid all these years on WinMo: competing head-to-head with its valued (well, supposedly valued) partners. Whether Android risks losing support over manufacturers and carriers being treated like pieces of meat remains to be seen, but realistically, Motorola (which has very publicly gone all-in with Mountain View over the past year) and others are likely to grin and bear it as long as the platform pays the bills — no matter how awkward competing with the company that writes your kernel and huge swaths of your shell might be.

It’s not in any way the Earth-shattering, paradigm-skewing device the media and community cheerleaders have built it up to be. It’s a good Android phone, but not the last word — in fact, if we had to choose between this phone or the Droid right now, we would lean towards the latter.

The device, a Snapdragon-powered, HTC-built phone looks — on paper, at least — like the ultimate Android handset, combining a newly tweaked and tightened user interface with killer industrial design. A sleek, streamlined phone that can easily go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 3GSs, Pres, and Droids of the world, powered by the latest version of Android (2.1 “Flan,” if you’re counting), and hand-retooled by Google.

The Nexus One is nothing if not handsome. From its ultra-thin body to sleek, curved edges, the phone is absolutely lustworthy.

It’s clear that Google and HTC made strides to bring an Android handset into the same realm of base desirability that Apple’s halo device occupies. For the most part, they’ve succeeded. The phone shape finds itself somewhere between the iPhone and Palm Pre — taking the Pre’s curved, stone-like shape and stretching it into something resembling a more standard touchscreen device

The shape and size of the phone is absolutely fantastic; even though the surface of the device houses a 3.7-inch display, the handset generally feels trimmer and more svelte than an iPhone, Hero, and certainly the Droid.

HTC has managed to get the thickness of the phone down to just 11.5mm, and it measures just 59.8mm and 119mm across and up and down — kind of a feat when you consider the guts of this thing. In the hand it’s a bit lighter than you expect — though it’s not straight-up light — and the curved edges and slightly tapered top and bottom make for a truly comfortable phone to hold.

Unlike the Droid, the Nexus One has a trackball just below those buttons that should feel very familiar to Hero users — the placement feels a bit awkward here, and there’s literally nothing in the OS that requires it.

The 3.7-inch display should be stunning — and is for the most part — but we did have some issues with it.

In terms of touch sensitivity, the display is as good or better than any Android phone we’ve used.The Nexus One is a nightmare to see with any kind of bright light around, and snapping photos with it on a sunny day was like taking shots with your eyes closed.

One place where the Nexus One seems to be improving things is in the camera department. Not only has Google bumped up the speed of the camera app , but the 5 megapixel lens and flash took sharp, detailed images with none of the HTC-related issues we’ve seen on other models.

Well the real story is that Android 2.1 is in no way dramatically different than the iteration of the OS which is currently running on the Motorola Droid (2.0.1). In fact, there is so little that’s different in the software here, we were actually surprised.

By all appearances, the company will have a new phone portal where buyers can pick between an unsubsidized, unlocked Nexus One for $529.99, or sign up for a two-year agreement with T-Mobile and purchase the phone for $179.99.

Update: here are two credible review from Walt Mossberg and Gizmodo
Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD Review
Gizmodo Review

Here is a video of the announcement at Google

About John Furrier

Founder and CEO of SiliconAngle.com.