So, Google have a phone out now. By all accounts, it’s very much Just Another Android phone – it’s running a more recent version of the OS than most, and it’s got a few tweaks like animated wallpapers, but it’s really nothing much more than any other recent Android devices. Certainly nothing that would make you immediately rush out and buy it over any of the others. What’s the point in this, then?
I’m pretty sure Google don’t actually intend this to be an iPhone-beater in and of itself, nor do I expect that they’re thinking they’ll make any appreciable money off it (heck, they claim to be selling it at cost – and it’s certainly a fair bit cheaper than the iPhone, although it’s still far from free). What it is, though, is a brand-positioning exercise: up until now, Android phones haven’t really had much unity of brand, being made by different manufacturers, with various customisations and widgety bits. In announcing their own phone, Google are making their presence in the phone market much more prominent to the average consumer – so now people can walk into a phone shop and can ask for a “Google phone”. And the really significant thing is – it doesn’t matter whether people buy the Nexus One, an HTC Hero, a Motorola Droid or any other future Android device – all Google care about is that you buy a phone running its software, delivering its adverts to you. And that is what I think the Nexus One is about.