Somebody (not a Google employee) contacted me just a few minutes ago saying he’d read my Google Phone At Large post and wanted to fill me in. He said he had a chance recently to hold and use the phone, which is an HTC-manufactured device, as all the discussion in the past 36 hours and now pictures have shown. He added that the “iPhone on Steroids” description was accurate.
He said the screen had resolution “at least twice as good” in his estimation as the current iPhone. He told me that he had a chance to use it for a period of time and was impressed by the degree of integration of the software and hardware. He spoke in particular about the Google Navigation experience, which is of course not unique to this new phone.
He speculated that there may be as many as 400 of these handsets out in the world now. (There are probably many more than that.) I pressed him a bit to give me more detail and insight into what was superlative about the device vs. the iPhone. He said the screen and overall experience.
He thought that, with this device, Google would start to break away from Apple and would “win.” I’m not as convinced. I’ll have to use one for myself.
We discussed the critical issue of price and how that would play out. I told him about the new rumor that T-Mobile would offer an after-the-fact subsidy with a two-year contract.
It occurred to me that Google’s really shewed move is this: the carriers — which ones will depend on whether it’s GSM only — will (be compelled to) compete with one another to offer incentives to use their networks with a two year commitment. This will effectively be the same thing as an upfront subsidy. It will operate, as a practical matter, like a rebate. I’m speculating but Google may be banking that this phone will be so good and in such demand that the carriers will be forced into such a position.
This phone, the “Nexus One” or whatever its name turns out to be, and not the Droid (which is now “so last month”) becomes the new Android flagship device and true iPhone challenger. But while everyone’s focused on the Google/Android vs. Apple/iPhone story consider how all the mindshare is being stolen from: Windows, Palm, Nokia (and even RIM to a degree).
Nexus One is apparently, like Droid, the beginning of a new group of Android handsets — Nexus two, three, four, etc.
If I’m Verizon and Motorola I might be unhappy that Droid’s buzz has largely now been undermined (maybe even killed) by this new phone — even before the phone is publicly confirmed. The source I spoke to (who wouldn’t necessarily know this) speculated that the new Android device would be out early next year. Although the rumor is that it will come out in Q1, possibly even in January.
Though it may not be obvious, Palm is probably the biggest loser in all this as its integrated devices (Pre, Pixi) are pushed to the margins of coverage and phone fashion.
Microsoft can keep going for a long time with Windows Mobile and will release 7 now “late” next year. (It needs to be really good to put Windows Mobile back in the limelight.) Nokia is the largest handset maker in the world and, wisely or not, has committed to Symbian as its smartphone OS. It will continue to see its smartphone share erode over time but isn’t in dire straits. In fact the Finnish OEM is in a bit of a state of denial about what’s happening in the market.
Palm probably eventually becomes takeover material for Microsoft or Nokia, although that remains to be seen.
Engadget has more pictures of the Nexus One.
See related stories: