Google is expected to announce its first branded phone on Tuesday, the Nexus One. And the upcoming smartphone has, to say the least, generated a great deal of Internet buzz. Sure, we all love Android (well, many of us do), but as the device’s release grows near, I’ve been wondering more and more…
What exactly is the big deal about the Nexus One?
The excitement, it seems, centers mainly on Google’s reported decision to claim the device as its own. All previous Android-powered smartphones have been products touted and sold by their respective manufacturers/carriers, so there would seem to be something about the Nexus One that sets it apart – enough for Google to stamp the device with its logo and sell it unlocked directly to users, an unprecedented move.
Could that “apartness” be as simple as hardware specs? The Nexus One, according to what information we have, is certainly a high-end phone, with features like a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, an OLED touchscreen display, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Or could there be something else about the device that makes it Google-worthy?
Perhaps the Nexus One has a Google Voice trick or two up its sleeve. The phone number replacement service has been rumored to be receiving an VoIP update for some time (particularly following Google’s acquisition of Gizmo5), so is the Nexus One a move into data-plan-only mobile phones? It doesn’t seem like wireless carriers would be too thrilled at that prospect.
Plus, since the Nexus One is a GSM phone, it can only be used in the U.S. with AT&T and T-Mobile. T-Mobile has a less-than-stellar 3G network at the moment and AT&T’s 3G network is currently bogged down with data hungry iPhone users. That would seem to rule out either carrier’s network being dependable enough for reliable VoIP calling, and who would you use a phone that only worked where Wi-Fi was available?
Maybe Google is planning to use the Nexus One as a transitional product, with both traditional and VoIP voice features. Or perhaps the company has simply decided to release an Android handset entirely on its own terms.
At the end of the day, what I really want to know is: what is exactly is the “nexus” in the Nexus One – what’s being bridged here? Google with the retail hardware business? Or Android with a new Google-powered service?
Hopefully all will be made clear next week.
M. Nichols, Products Editor