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
Member since:

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.

Reply Score: 5

Budd Member since:

Which part from the article you didn't understood? The Nexus bought from T-Mobile can't be used in Vodafone network. The lock is not only in the sim but also in the firmware. In my book is not 100% unlocked. Unless you plan to stick with the same provider for a long time.

Reply Parent Score: 2

MrWeeble Member since:

So what?

You make your choice; do you want to pay a significant deal less in order to get a phone that has to be used on a particular network; or do you pay full price to be able to use it on any network?

Reply Parent Score: 1

mat69 Member since:

Reading your post taking a shot at the US cellphone market I was tempted to look at the AT&T prices and heck paying 39.99 USD for 450 minutes and free calling to other members of the AT&T network (or 1350 minutes for 79.99 USD) sucks.

Here I have to pay 14.50 EUR (= 20.75 USD, though companies often use a 1:1 ratio ...) for 1100 minutes + a new phone and that provider is in general the most expensive here...
And my personal rate are 300 minutes + a new phone for 5 euros (=7.1 USD).

I have the feeling you (US Americans) are being ripped off.

Reply Parent Score: 2

nt_jerkface Member since:

Reading your post taking a shot at the US cellphone market I was tempted to look at the AT&T prices and heck paying 39.99 USD for 450 minutes and free calling to other members of the AT&T network (or 1350 minutes for 79.99 USD) sucks.

Ok but you're not pointing out that you get 5000 nights and weekend minutes with the $40 plan. You get unlimited nights and weekends with the $60 and up plans. You also get rollover minutes and family plans can really bring down the costs.

Is it a rip? Well compared to the price of a land line it isn't that bad considering that you get much more functionality. If you want to see a rip-off then read about our cable tv prices. Our bill was about $160 last month for ~80 channels and 1.5 Mbps internet. Oh but it comes with a "free" land line that we never use. Gee thanks.

Though I would support increased regulation of the cable companies it is only a matter of time before set-top boxes and netflix enabled devices get cheap and force cable companies to sell movies and channels individually and not as part of some mega package that no one wants.

Reply Parent Score: 2

nt_jerkface Member since:

The main problem with the US model of treating the phone as a commodity is that there is no real incentive for phone innovation.

What are you talking about? Every year we get new phones with more features and better functionality. The most innovative phone was developed in the US.

The heavy subsidies make basic phones free but they also allow smart phones to be marketed to a wider audience. Most wealthy people I know wouldn't even buy a $500 phone. I would actually suspect that cutting a $500 smartphone to $250 would result in at least a 5 fold increase in sales. Americans are known to be finicky when it comes to purchasing electronic devices that cost over $300. The vast majority will wait for the price to come down or buy something cheaper.

Reply Parent Score: 2

darkstego Member since:

I was talking about the pre-iPhone era. Phones being sold in the US were archiac in comparison to the rest of the world. In the US carriers would dictate to the manufacturers what features would be on the phone. Whereas elsewhere in the world phone manufacturers would provide many different phones with different feature sets and let the customer decide. Before the iPhone carriers weren't all that convinced that people wanted phones with tons of features so they simply didn't provide them.

As an example, push emails on phones in the US seem to have only come up with the introduction of Blackberrys. While at the same time many of the mid to high end phones being sold here had email and push email capabilities. In Japan nearly all phones supported emails for many years.

I was just trying to point out that if the market only sold phones through carriers then they would dictate what the phone market would look like. Since they make money off the service and the handsets are just something they would subsidies, then they would like the handsets to be as cheap as possible. This has changed now with the iPhone. So while the iPhone basicly brought about the whole smartphone market in the US, the rest of the world already had a wide selection of smartphones to choose from. Granted they weren't as polished as the iPhone, but at least the market had choices.

Reply Parent Score: 1