The way that the “Google Phone” rumors and later Nexus One blogging played out probably mean that when Google finally announces the device on January 5 (in all likelihood) there won’t be much news. I could be quite wrong of course. Regardless, I imagine the event will be interesting — something like “a year of Android” with milestones and other data — but the cherry on the top of the ice cream sundae was probably supposed to be the now overexposed handset.
It’s not clear what Google thought would happen when it handed out the device to several hundred of its employees as an early Xmas gift. After the news got out the company’s attempt to suggest this was a Google-only experimental device was immediately debunked:
We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.
In addition, the early hype about this being the one true “Google Phone” created lots of expectations and speculation about what Google was doing strategically. Now that the dust is settling, the only real novelty here is that the phone is reportedly being sold online (although I imagine that will change eventually). No doubt it’s a terrific phone, but it emerges as just the next T-Mobile-HTC Android handset in order (although the box only shows Google’s brand).
Any offense taken by Verizon or Motorola over the buzz could have been handled with a more conventional launch strategy (if any of this was planned).
In the end, the methodology here doesn’t turn out to be quite as radical as everyone had earlier expected. The earthquake is more of a tremor.
Had Google not given out the phone and the images and details not leaked so freely it might have been able to surprise on January 5 (unless there’s something else still up its sleeve). But the publicity is largely played out — although when the Nexus One is formally released there will be the customary Walt Mossberg, David Pogue and Edward Baig columns comparing the device to other Android handsets and, ultimately, the iPhone.
But we already know all that.
Postscript From Danny Sullivan:
One of the most uninspiring things to be, so far, is how the phone doesn’t appear to do anything different from current smartphone pitches out there in the US. This is Google seemingly taking full control of a cell phone for the first time, a company that is often considered to launch revolutionary products in areas desperately needing a revolution. And we’re getting?….
What appears to be a slightly better version of Android phones already out there. I’ve got an Android 1.5 “Hero” version, and it still doesn’t — to me — best my iPhone. Others I’ve talked to who’ve used Android still say it has catching up to do. The “Droid” 2.0 phone has gotten lots of buzz, but it still doesn’t sound like an iPhone killer. I’ve heard from two people who’ve used the Nexus One who also feel it has more catching up to do. Another, as we’ve covered, does feel it is “iPhone on steroids.”
From Gizmodo, we learn the phone will be sold on a TWO YEAR CONTRACT if you want the subsidized $180 price. Yawn. I mean serious yawn. Google, the company that’s all about the “open,” is pitching its own phone with a 2 year lock-in. Yes, you can buy it unsubsidized. But I can do the same with other smartphones. What’s new here? What’s special? Where’s the Google breaking new ground? This feels like Google entering an existing space and bringing nothing new, nothing revolutionary. No unusual pricing model. A good smartphone, but not a killer smart phone. Yawn.
What did I want? If Google’s putting its full weight behind a phone — and at the expense of potentially upsetting partners like T-Mobile and Verizon that are selling their own Android devices — not to mention anyone who was thinking of using “open” Android to also play in the cell phone space –I want shock and awe. I want an ad-subsidized phone. Or I want a phone that’s free with a two year commitment or an unsubsidized price that’s well under $500. I want a phone that does GMS and CDMA, so I don’t have to trash it if I decide to drop T-Mobile and go to Verizon. Or something else, but something that’s different, something that really deserves the attention that a “Google Phone” should generate.
- Google Android Press Event For Jan. 5 – Announcing “Nexus One” Google Phone?
- The “Google Phone” Now At Large?
- More Detail On Google Phone From A User; Makes Droid “So Last Month”
- Putting The Google Phone (Nexus One) Into Some Perspective
- The Google Phone/Nexus One Was (Briefly) In My Hand