You’ve seen and heard the news – Google has launched their new phone, the Nexus One, and it has already gotten more press than all other Android handsets combined. There’s no disputing that the Nexus One is now the best Android phone on the market as it is faster, supports Flash, and has a bigger screen and better hardware than its nearest competitor, the HTC Hero/G2 Touch. However the Nexus One is also made by HTC, and it doesn’t seem markedly improved enough on the Hero to warrant the current levels of Android geek orgasm. Instead – the following points are much more worthy of your attention.
Buying the Nexus One is a revolutionary e-commerce experience
If you’ve ever bought a phone online, you’d be forgiven for the level of shock as soon as you land on the Nexus One’s incredibly simple to navigate ecommerce site. Google’s UX guys have done their homework and made it as clean and uncluttered as the Google main page, with a number of clever features and a minimal number of clicks. The interactive animated tour of the phone is designed to overcome the fact that buyers don’t have the ability to touch it in person, through using intuitive comparisons to understand the phone’s dimensions and how it would fit in their hand.
If you decide the Nexus One is the phone for you, within roughly six clicks from the main page you can navigate through to purchase using Google Checkout. It can be argued that Google’s sales and distribution technique are not a new thing – you can already buy an iPhone from Apple directly without a contract. Due to their positioning however, Google gets an exponentially larger volume of traffic than any other phone e-tailer, which takes me through to my next point…
…Google are Sidelining the Operators
Your average buyer is more comfortable having a sales assistant there when purchasing a new handset, either over the phone or in person, to explain a purposely over-complicated price plan to them. Google have removed the need for said guidance by allowing you to buy your phone by a) unlocked for roughly £330, and then slotting in your existing SIM on your existing price plan or b) at a subsidised price with a recommended price plan for preferred operator (not that Google is fussed with which operator they make deals with), with the potential to upgrade if you have a pre-existing contract.
There are a host of obstacles need to be overcome to be successful with this approach, which Euan over at Mobile Industry Review sums up very nicely- can Google handle the logistics pipeline of fulfilment and support to the same levels as the operators? From the looks of the first wave of complaints outlined in this BBC article, probably not. But that doesn’t really matter because…
…finally Google’s mobile offering is getting some much-needed mainstream media attention
The media comparisons between the Nexus One and the iPhone are primarily based on comparing the OS of both phones, and focus on Android’s ability to customise your phone, having multiple apps running etc. The fact is you can get the Android OS (albeit 1.5 instead of 2.1) on an old G1 – these features are not new or revolutionary – but the recognition and awareness boost that the media have given Google and Android has made this overhyping of the Nexus One irrelevant. For most mobile users this phone release and the resulting publicity has given them their first exposure to the Android OS and shown them a credible alternative to the iPhone.