Linked by snydeq on Wed 6th Jan 2010 20:08 UTC
Google InfoWorld's Galen Gruman writes that the main potential game-changing attribute of the Nexus One - that Google is selling the device direct - does nothing to move the industry past carrier lock-in. "At first, I wanted to credit Google for making a tentative step in the direction of smartphone freedom. But that step is so tentative and ineffectual that frankly I think it's a cynical fig leaf covering the usual practices," Gruman writes. At issue is a political battle regarding walled gardens in the U.S. cellular market, a fight that will take years to result in any true consumer freedom. "The only way we'll ever get the ability to choose a smartphone and carrier independently is for the platform providers that count - Apple, Google, and RIM - to first develop only multiband 'world' smartphones and then refuse to sell their devices (or in Google's case, use its Android license to forbid the sale of devices) to carriers that block or interfere with device portability."
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The true purpose of the Nexus One
by darkstego on Wed 6th Jan 2010 23:19 UTC
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Once I read sensationalism filled article titles like that it really turns me off from reading the entire article. But since I was going to comment I felt obligated to reading the entire article anyway.

The complaint that the current Nexus One isn't a "world phone" just doesn't hold any water. The Nexus one supports all the GSM bands meaning it can be used as a 2G phone with any GSM carrier. Existing AT&T customers can use it as a 2G phone with wifi. It might not be perfect, but I am sure that quite a few will be satisfied with this solution, especially in areas with poor 3G coverage anyway. It supports 3 of the 5 3G bands allowing it to be used nearly everywhere in the world (AT&T and Rogers being the exception rather than the rule). So even though I don't live in the US, I placed my order for the Nexus One and will soon be rocking my phone in Saudi Arabia.

Now I agree the US cellphone market if fundamentally flawed. I could see it even back 15 years when I would visit the states, my cellphone would be years ahead of anything offered in the market. This was because carriers where selling the service and making the phone the commodity. It is the reverse almost everywhere else in the world. Phones are were you can innovate and keep your margins, while service providers have to compete mainly on the basis of price.

The main problem with the US model of treating the phone as a commodity is that there is no real incentive for phone innovation. This does not suit Google who wants everyone to be connected to the web. Moving as many people to web enabled smart phones is what Google wants. While a company like Apple, does not care as much about market penetration as much as they do about securing the healthy revenue stream they get from AT&T. Even if that means expanding at a slower rate.

What is unique about the Nexus One isn't the phone itself. At its heart it is just the HTC snapdragon phone everyone was expecting this year. What sets this phone apart is how Google are promoting and selling it. This phone isn't controlled by carriers like the T-Mobile G-1 or the Verizon Droid. This is an unlocked phone sold by Google. This is huge paradigm shift. This allows the seller, in this case Google, to offer the phone unlocked or subsidized from different carriers for their customer. Suddenly the user is the customer of the Google and not any particular carrier. The fact that the only carrier that provides subsidies today is T-Mobile is unimportant, because pretty soon others will follow suit.

Looking at the future we see why the Nexus One is so important. This will not be remembered as Google's grand entrance into mobile hardware market. Google don't care much for selling phones. The significance of this phone will be for what it opens up for other manufacturers. Suddenly companies like Motorolla, Samsung and SE can start offering their phones in a similar fashion. Either as unlocked version without a contract, or subsidized by the carrier of your choice. Suddenly mobile phone users in the US will have the freedom that has been so long overdue.

The only real complaint is that Google haven't been overly aggressive. But Google have never been the confrontational type. The reason they don't enable multi-touch is because they they don't want to ruffle Apple's patent-loving feathers, even though if they wanted to, they could probably get past Apple's flimsy multi-touch patents. They didn't put up much of a fight when Apple crippled the Google apps for the iphone, from Google Voice to gtalk. Getting into legal fisticuffs with competitors isn't Google's strategy. They know that slow and steady wins the race. So as long as they are moving in the right direction then I don't see much of a reason to complain.

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