Announcements of new products are always interesting when they come from Google, and concern a type of device to which we are all fairly addicted. I have had the privilege of watching companies announce new technology products since about 1980 and feel like I am getting the hang of understanding what the meaning might be behind all the features. So we know that the Nexus One phone has a 1 Gigahertz processor, and to put that in perspective, that is about twice what the current version of Google phone has. The phone comes an unlocked version so that if you are willing to spend north of $500, you can have the privilege of using it with any of the major networks. Of course the devil is in the details on this one because if you are going to use it with AT&T, you will not be able to access their 3G system – only the Edge network. Google also announced a new version of the Android platform which is sure to annoy all the people that just bought Droid phones after all the marketing hoopla. So there, you now have the feature list. Let’s talk about the impact…
I am interested to see that Google created its own store to sell the Nexus One, and this surely indicates that they intend to sell more devices over time to the public. I can only imagine what a group of people that clever will come up with when they spend 20% of their work time doing pet projects.
I am encouraged to see Google continuing to push using voice as an input device. They have given the Nexus One the ability to fill any text field in by voice. Although this is not practical in all situations, there are a few that come in really handy, like answering email in the car driving down the road. Voice control has been on the verge of really becoming a well-used interface tool and maybe a mobile device that elegantly integrates a voice option could be the tipping point.
I am also glad to see that they are offering an unlocked version of the phone so that people are not locked into on specific telecom provider. Apple may have benefitted financially from the exclusive deal with AT&T, but they have suffered from an image standpoint by going out of their way to block people from using the phone on other services. By selling the phone direct, Google may also be separating costs in a way that will force cell providers to lower their costs. I would wager this, if the rumor is true that AT&T wants to charge a high amount for the ability to tether the iPhone, you will see Google trump them by providing tethering for a very low cost. Google specializes in keeping costs down and finding other ways to drive revenues, and as a consumer, I love that they will force others – including Apple – to lower prices.
Google has such a command of the advertising supported model of revenue that it is logical to think that we may see them splice that capability into the phone and the phone service. How long before they offer a deal for a phone with free service as long as you listen to and ad before you make a call? Or, have a scrolling set of ads that take up the screen space on your phone while idle?
Apple has a great command of design and user experience. Google has a great command of search and advertising models. They also have an awesome ability to quickly spin up new capabilities out of their labs. Two very different companies, both competing in the mobile device market. This bodes really well for us in that the competition will drive costs down, and raise the level of features quickly. I am really looking forward to seeing what we get over then next few years.