Anyone with an interest in mobile phones and, more specifically, the android platform and the mystical Google phone cannot have avoided the current noise about the Google Nexus One phone.
Since the first news / photos / rumours of the actual existence of the HTC produced handset hit the blogosphere, it has been staggering to see how much dicussion and conjecture has bubbled up surrounding how Google will launch their own phone.
It should not be forgotten that there has not actually been ANY official announcement on the handset (other than the fact that a handset had been handed out to employees to test) or how it is going to be sold, so most of the commentary is nothing more than guesswork.
We are interested in the phone for a number of reasons:
It is the last two points that perhaps interest us most. January 5th seems to be the date that most are pointing to regarding a release date, but there are no confirmed details regarding cost, regional availability or possible carriers.
Most do seem to agree that the phone is likely to be sold directly via Google’s website although there are suggestions that T-mobile may well be picking up the handset.
It is the ‘direct’ channel that is potentially the most interesting as it will raise the question of whether Google will choose to subsidise the handset cost.
Why would they want to do this? There are several ways in which could monetise the use of a ‘Google phone’ (e.g. through mobile advertising) but they can ultimately afford to take a bit of a hit in pure profitability to really give the Android platform a big push.
It is estimated that the actual production costs of an iPhone are sub $200, so Google could sell their phone at the $199 that has been rumoured and give users an extremely compelling reason to make the leap to Android (in the UK, an iPhone 3Gs 32GB is over £500 from O2)
Android is still the newcomer, although it is clearly making inroads in terms of market share, especially since the launch of the Motorola Droid in the US.
In our own experience, the real benefits of having an Android handset are felt when you also use other Google services, most notably their email service. As mentioned above, we are huge fans of Google Apps and our business is run using this service, which provides a comparable email service to MS Exchange at a fraction of the cost.
This is where we believe that Google can achieve quite a coup.
We do not want to see invasive advertising on our phones and believe that this would be a real turn off for potential buyers, even if the phone was discounted. Google could, in our humble opinion, push both the Android platform and the Google Apps suite by offering a discounted handset directly to Google Apps users in the initial launch period.
There is no doubt that there is huge interest in the handset and we suspect that demand will be very high irrespective of price, but selling only to Google Apps users in the short term would be a sure fire way of driving Google Apps sign ups and ultimately providing a more thoroughly enjoyable experience (which is what Google is all about) of the handset itself.
Just food for thought, but if you are reading this Google and like it, we will be more than happy to receive a handset or two in recognition of our thoughts!
***If you have stumbled across this article on a quest for more information about the Google phone, we apologise if the title caused alarm but please feel free to tweet about / link to / shout about / etc. as it will help a mini project that we are running to measure the effect of social media.***