Should You Search For The Google Nexus One?

Google has just rolled out is “iPhone Killer,” the Nexus One, and while the tech world may be gushing over the phone’s sleek figure, 5 megapixel camera and fast processor, we only care about one thing: can it play Doom? No, wait, strike that. The real question is: What does this do that last week’s hot Google phone — you remember, that Droid thing — couldn’t do? And why the heck should I buy a phone from a search engine company?

True, the Nexus One isn’t actually made by Google. It’s from bigshot cellphone-maker HTC. But it runs Google’s Android software, and is being sold directly by Google. You can even buy an unlocked version from Google and use it with the carrier of your choice — if that carrier is either AT&T or T-Mobile, that is, and you have $529 to spare.

But is it a decent phone? Engadget spent a while playing with one, and in the end found that “at its core just another Android smartphone.”

It’s a particularly good one, don’t get us wrong — certainly up there with the best of its breed — but it’s not in any way the Earth-shattering, paradigm-skewing device the media and community cheerleaders have built it up to be. It’s a good Android phone, but not the last word — in fact, if we had to choose between this phone or the Droid right now, we would lean towards the latter

So, assuming you think the Nexus One is decent, why should you buy a phone from a search engine company? Well, a couple of years ago, you may have said the same thing about buying a phone from a company known mainly for overpriced niche computers and stores modeled after the Saarinen TWA terminal. That phone became one of the first to challenge carrier dominance over the customer experience, by providing phones, applications and accessories directly to consumers. Google is going even further, with its unlocked units and multi-carrier model (a Verizon version will be available in the spring).

“The carriers are losing control of the ecosystem at large,” Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research, told The Wall Street Journal. The paper adds:

Google has the opportunity to build upon Apple’s groundwork. The Nexus One enjoys the built-in hype of a true “Google phone,” and doesn’t necessarily require support from a carrier to become a hit.

More important than a bestselling phone, Google and other handset makers are looking at whether a direct-to-consumer business model works.

So, if you’re looking to undermine the power of the phone networks, while keeping Sergei and Larry in turtlenecks — oops, sorry, that’s the other guy — go ahead and buy a Nexus One. Just remember that you’ll still be paying one of those carriers every month, so don’t expect them to be too upset that you’re trying to reshape the cellphone industry.

Nexus One review [Engadget]
Google Takes Mobile Push Directly To Consumers With Nexus One [WSJ.com]