Sound Off: Reaction to Google's Nexus One

Google's release of the Nexus One smartphone has generated a range of commentary, from declarations of game changing to mere shrugs of the shoulders. We've collected commentary from all corners of the industry on Google's latest business move.

As far as Android licensees go, Google is stressing that the code is open-source for the point that all vendors can use it as they please for their own agendas. They are going to encourage and in this case stimulate device differentiation. One thing that stood out was around the store and its impact for licensees is interesting. The Google folks said that not all Android handsets will find their way to the store and that they will be setting a bar in which the devices will have to meet to be on the store. This is simply a move to set a quality bar with the devices that typically a licensing model doesn't have which can some times leads to poor devices. Obviously Google wants the relationship with licensees to stay the same and the store is an attempt to keep the playing field level which hopefully keeps those licensees working with Google. --Ben Bajarin, Creative Strategies

 

The media hyper-ventilating over the launch of the Nexus One handset yesterday was more than unseemly. When I read a Wall Street Journal blogger gush over getting a free phone I knew we had reached a new level of sycophantic grovelling. It wasn't too long ago when journalists from respectable outlets wouldn't dream of taking a freebie--a rule I admit to never adhering to as an industry analyst. Now that we are all bloggers I guess the old rules don't apply. Google's PR machine earned their pay as they did little to dissuade the media from mischaracterizing the device as its first direct foray into the market with its own branded handset. ... What was interesting, and much overlooked, was the fact that Google has created an online platform to support handset distribution and on-the-fly device activation. As Google becomes an online handset retailer it will be competing against AdSense customers like Wirefly.com and LetsTalk.com. --Seamus McAteer

 

Google has made its reputation and billions through its Internet strategies, and has always viewed mobile as a distribution mechanism for extending its reach. It has the infrastructure, it has the technology; thanks to its recent purchase of AdMob, it has a dedicated mobile advertising network. Now, with its own-brand handset (available from its own online store), it can reach out directly to the consumer, offering not just the Internet but the means of accessing it. --Windsor Holden, Juniper Research

 

The Nexus One is an excellent app phone, fast and powerful but marred by some glitches and missing features--a worthy competitor to the Droid, if not the iPhone. The Google phone store is a neat, centralized place to buy phones, but so far, it offers zero advantages over buying a T-Mobile phone any other way. Even so, you should root for the Google Store's success, because the obnoxious policies and fees of the American cellphone companies have gotten out of control. Anything with even a fighting chance of putting power and choice back in your hands is cause for celebration. --David Pogue, New York Times

 

Google is not the first to try selling phones direct to consumers. Apple, of course, sells many of the iPhones in the U.S. via its retail stores. Palm has sold unlocked phones direct to consumers for years (at steep, unsubsidized pricing) with limited success. Nokia does this with some phones that don't make it to the U.S. at major carriers. ... But it's a smart, potentially disruptive move on Google's part, even if it makes some of its partners mad. Someone needs to shake up the carrier-dominated distribution model. --Dan Frommer, Silicon Alley Insider

 

Google's entry, though unusual (it becomes a competitor to its partners), may help to price band Android handsets in the market (~$500 at the high end), though currently in line with industry pricing. We see Google's differentiation as limited as the Android 2.1 software will be available to vendor partners including HTC and Motorola, which add their own differentiation through features like Sense UI & MotoBLUR, respectively. --Maynard Um, UBS

 

The Google brand is getting confusing though. First there was the Google Android. Then the next version of the Google Android along with Verizon's version called Droid. Now we have another brand called Google Nexus One. If managed poorly this could get very confusing in the marketplace. We'll have to see how well they manage this. --Jeff Kagan, analyst

 

Those awaiting another iPhone-like revolution are in for disappointment. There seems to be a default question posed with each new 'hero' device that gets launched: "Is this the iPhone killer?" Alas, the mobile phone industry is moving so quickly that these new devices cannot bring the level of change in experience that the first iPhone established as a game changer. We're in for continued, steady, incremental improvements--if that depresses you, you're seeing the glass as half empty. Those willing to spend to keep pace with this rate of innovation will find their mobile experience continuously improving, and that's good news. --Charles S. Golvin, Forrester

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