If you remember any movie about robots, new versions always come with new features, leaving older ones metaphorically “in the dust.” While I kept thinking of Nexus hair products today (there’s a hair stylist in my family), the Nexus One was really the android model played by Sean Young in the movie Blade Runner (and the Blade Runner folks are none too happy at the moment, as I hear).
You can get all the Google Nexus One specs here so I won’t go into the technical features at length. Today’s event was somewhat uneventful for the critics, but then you can only cover just so much depth in a 90-minute press event (that comment’s for my AR and PR friends out there).
The killer feature is clearly going to be voice navigation and speech to text as today’s demos showed— Google Maps and Google Street View showing turn-by-turn navigation and the way it should actually look, and then cycling through Facebook contacts.
On the plus side I like the:
- 3.7-inch AMOLED display
- 1GHz Snapdragon processor makes QUALCOMM happy and means things run fast natively
- photo app with 5MP camera appears to be very appealing
- noise cancelling dual mics (front and back)
The Nexus One is both Google and HTC branded (on the back), and is available today in two configurations-
- unlocked and off-contract with a T-Mobile compatible radio for $529 in the US, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong (Chinese gray market soon?), purchased here from Google on the their hosted Web Store using Google Checkout
- with a two year T-Mobile US contract for $179; minimum unlimited data plan is $80/month (too rich for many)
Google stated that the Nexus One is headed to Verizon and Vodafone, hopefully by spring. You can preorder it now on their sites. There were no other revelations of other markets or operators coming (sorry Canada!).
On the downside-
- on contract it’s on T-Mobile’s small 3G network (no coverage in my Boston suburb)
- GSM but if you pop in your AT&T SIM it runs on EDGE network, not the bandwidth a smart phone customer wants to see
- it has Wi-Fi but tethering is not enabled yet
- it falls flat on desktop software configuration, all done on the phone or within Google Apps. Apple at least lets you configure iPhones through iTunes and BlackBerry has BlackBerry Desktop (if you live in Gmail, Google Apps, and Google Calendar this may not be an issue)
- there are no multi-touch capabilities; Andy Rubin would only say “we’re looking at it.”
- a few existing Android phones may be able to upgrade to Android 2.1, but most will be left in the dust— Apple has never left its older models behind!
- Google hasn’t worked out over-the-air (OTA) software updates, something Apple has excelled in
There is no free totally ad subsidized model that some people were looking for. But the combination of Google Search results and relevant ads being served up means more eyeballs looking at Google served content, and more revenue to Google and others, although sharing arrangements with operators or advertisers were not disclosed.
Let’s face it, smart phones (someone please stop Andy Rubin from calling it a “superphone!”) have an 18-month shelf life among average adopters, and every 3-6 months something new comes along. It’s the nature of technology innovation and also Marketing 101. So wait until January 27th to see what Apple will unveil. But the Nexus One is closer to the iPhone than the Droid was. It’s just not on my (or many others’) preferred network here in the US. It may become more operator agnostic by Spring, which is a good thing. Its unsubsidized price as well as T-Mobile’s price and unlimited data plan pricing needs to ratchet down, and probably will with Verizon and others getting in the mix.