If you’re a digital “aficionado,” or anything close to it, by now you’ve heard that Google is on the brink of announcing its first exclusively Google-branded android phone, the Nexus One. While Google had a hand in Verizon’s Droid, it seems as though with the Nexus One, it’s following the Apple model, developing its own handset independently and making a deal with a carrier to support it. And so, when the Nexus One is finally set free on the market, consumers will only be able to purchase it directly from Google, though they can get service for it through T-Mobile.
Recently – presumably because this is the time of year for big consumer tech announcements – we’ve learned a lot more about the Nexus One. In true Google form, the company has seemingly tried to generate buzz around the product by releasing it to a beta group – this time, its own employees. That’s how we’ve already seen some preliminary images of what it will (or perhaps, may) look like. But Google has really yet to divulge anything directly to “the press.”
In any case, that all will change in less than a week, as yesterday, the New York Times and a number of the most influential consumer tech blogs reported that Google sent out an invite for an “Android press gathering” on January 5.
But apparently we didn’t even have to wait that long to get some of the details…
According to a Gizmodo tipster, here’s the deal – as mentioned, the Nexus One will be sold exclusively by Google.
If you buy the phone straight up, with no service commitment (or no NEW service commitment) to T-Mobile, it’ll set you back 530 bones. If you buy it with a two year service commitment to T-Mobile, it’ll then cost you a much more reasonable $180.
In order to use it, you will have to either change to (if you already have T-Mobile) or purchase a specific voice and data plan (through T-Mobile) that will apparently run you about $80 a month (I’m still not clear on whether you will be able to connect an unlocked Nexus One to your existing carrier and service).
Oddly, and perhaps unfortunately, if you do opt for the two year service commitment in order to get the realistic price option, and you cancel that service within 120 days, you have to pay the $350 difference between the cost of the phone with the plan and the cost of the phone without it. Well, that or you can just return the phone to Google.
Once Google releases these beasts, you can buy one at Google.com/phone, and according to this report, you can begin rabidly doing so at 9am next Tuesday (January 5), though Google has not confirmed that.
And of course, most importantly, you can only buy FIVE Nexus Ones per Google account. So all of you eBay pirates, you might as well start signing up for multiple Google accounts now.
Now, from what I’ve read, the Nexus One sounds to be an as good, if not better version of Verizon’s Droid (which as mentioned, Google had a hand in developing). But its $530 price point (phone without service plan) is curious. When Apple originally released the iPhone back in ’07, it wasn’t cheap either. But Apple had (and continues to have) quite a rabid following for its consumer products. Google, on the other hand, isn’t much of a player (or hasn’t been to this point) in the physical consumer product market. So while it certainly has plenty of avid supporters on the web, whether or not those supporters will follow it into the physical market will be something interesting to watch.
Perhaps because iPhone is only available for AT&T customers, and the Droid for Verizon customers, Google will be able to seize on the T-Mobile and/or consumers-dissatisfied-with-their current-provider (who don’t own an iPhone or Droid)-market. But as an iPhone customer, no matter how annoying the sub-par service is, I’ve invested in the product and really, it’s not the device with which I’m unhappy.
In any case, it will certainly be interesting to see how the Nexus One impacts the current market. Hopefully, if nothing else, it will become a viable enough competitor to force more reasonable pricing for the iPhone and the Droid. And just maybe, it will become even more. Maybe it will be the device that makes Google a legitimate player in physical product sales. But only time will tell, and we’ll have to wait until next Tuesday to find out more. So stay tuned…