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Will Google Nexus One Shake Up Smartphone Biz Model?
By Susan Nunziata
Google debuted its much-anticipated Nexus One smartphone, manufactured by HTC with the latest Android mobile operating system. What makes the device's Jan. 5, 2010 debut notable is that the company is selling the device through a new Web store where consumers can purchase the phone without signing on for a specific carrier service.
 
Any GSM network SIM card can be inserted into the device. Such flexibility may prove attractive to enterprises with widely dispersed or multinational workers, even though the service-free version will carry a hefty pricetag.
 
That's not to say the company is turning its back on carrier partners; operator prices and plan details are featured on the new Website.
 
Nexus One is initially available from the Google web store in the US without service for $529 or starting at $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile USA.
 
In the near future, Google says Verizon Wireless in the US and Vodafone in Europe plan to offer services to customers in their respective geographies. Online orders for the phone are initially being taken from consumers in the U.S., the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
 
Steve Hilton, Head of Enterprise Research at Analysys Research, likens Google's GSM and CDMA models to offering "two Ferraris, one in black for date night and one in red in case date night doesn't work out."
 
From an enterprise perspective, he adds, offering CDMA and GSM models "allows a business to choose which carriers they prefer based on network coverage, person preference, rate plans, other network-based applications, etc."
 
According to Google, the goal of its new website is to provide an efficient way to connect Google's online users with selected Android phones. The online experience of the web store has been designed with a focus on simplicity. In the coming months, Google plans on partnering with additional operators, offering consumers access to a broad set of service plans. In the future the company expects to launch additional phones with Android handset partners and to expand the web store to additional countries.
 
Nexus One Details
 
The Nexus One features the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, which Google's Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering says makes the phone as powerful as your laptop computer.
 
In fact, Hilton of Analysys Research says "if the enterprise wants to run specialized applications -- whether on the front or back end -- that require horsepower, it's certainly there."
 
The Nexus One runs on Android 2.1, a version of the platform's Eclair software, which offers advanced applications and features including:
  • Google Maps Navigation: offering turn-by-turn driving directions with voice output.
  • Email: multiple Gmail accounts; universal inbox and Exchange support.
  • Phone book: aggregate contacts from multiple sources, including Facebook.
  • Quick Contacts: easily switch between communication and social applications.
  • Android Market: access to more than18,000 applications.
Hardware features include:
  • Display: 3.7" AMOLED 480x800 WVGA display
  • Thinness: 11.5mm
  • Weight: 130g
  • Processor/Speed: Qualcomm Snapdragon 3G QSD8250 chipset, delivering speeds up to 1GHz
  • Camera: 5 megapixel auto focus with flash and geo tagging
  • Onboard memory: 512MB Flash, 512MB RAM
  • Expandable memory: 4GB removable SD Card (expandable to 32GB)
  • Noise Suppression: Dynamic noise suppression from Audience, Inc.
  • Ports: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with four contacts for inline voice and remote control
  • Battery: Removable 1400 mAh
  • Personalized laser engraving: Up to 50 characters on the back of the phone
  • Trackball: Tri-color notification LED, alerts when new emails, chats, text messages arrive
In addition, the Nexus One introduces new functionality and software enhancements:
  • Enter text without typing: Use a voice-enabled keyboard for all text fields: speak a text message, instant message, tweet, Facebook update, or complete an email.
  • Tell your phone what you want it to do: Search Google, call contacts, or get driving directions by just speaking into your phone.
  • Take personalization to the next level: Dynamic, interactive, live wallpapers react to the touch of a finger, while widgets and five home screen panels allow for further device customization.
  • Capture camera-quality pictures and video: 5 megapixel camera includes LED flash, auto focus, zoom, white balance and color effects; pictures and Picasa Web Albums can be viewed in the new 3D Gallery; Hi-Res MPEG4 video can be recorded and then uploaded to YouTube with one click.
  • Read your voicemail messages:Get transcribed voicemail with Google Voice integration, without changing your number.
Android Influence Grows
 
According to a survey of 4,068 consumers conducted by ChangeWave Research Dec. 9-14, 2009, more than 21% of those planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days said they'd prefer to have the Android OS on their device.
 
Which Mobile Operating System Would You Prefer To Have
On The Smartphone You Plan On Buying?
(% Respondent)
Operating System
 September 2009  December 2009
 iPhone OSX  32%  28%
 Google Android  6%  21%
 RIM BlackBerry  17%  18%
 Microsoft Windows Mobile  9%  6%
 Palm OS/Web OS   6%  3%
 Source: ChangeWave Research 2009
 
According to ChangeWave, Motorola's DROID stands to be the biggest beneficiary in the near term of this uptick in Android interest. Whether the new Nexus One changes that picture, and what role Motorola will play in Google's new smartphone strategy, remains to be seen.
 
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