I know it’s too early to count out Google’s Nexus One and self-proclaimed “superphone” as a major contender in the cell phone market. However, I can offer a few notes on the current state of the smartphone:
The Palm Pre affected the iPhone’s market like remoras affect a shark’s hunting skills. Palm’s big gamble doesn’t look to be paying off and really, how many of their phones do you see when you walk down the street?
The word is still out on Android phones, though the demand isn’t nearly as crazy as it was for the iPhone.
Blackberries are, and will be, Apple’s main competition in the future for a few reasons:
- They’re the businessman’s choice for a work-related phone (or the businessman’s company’s choice)
- They’ve had 10 solid years building a reputation as a reliable business phone
- They don’t seem to be going anywhere despite Apple’s increasing marketshare.
The Nexus One though isn’t a business phone nor does it try to be. It’s the phone for everyone else — maybe it’s the anti-business phone.
While Google’s new online store could encourage a few to skip their cell phone provider’s local store in favor of a quick buy online, it won’t be a major factor in the success or failure of the Nexus One. I can buy an iPhone online too. It’s convenience and nothing more.
The true test of Google in the cell phone market will be how they convince the world that Android is not just a player, but the future of cell phone operating systems. Google needs to tout how remarkable an open-source cell phone platform can be compared to the familiar closed systems that carriers have toted for years. Google needs to encourage experimentation with Android and then advertise the results the way Apple advertises new apps.
But with such a head start, it’s hard to see anyone catching Apple. The App Store has proven to be a colossal success, Verizon users are clamoring for their own iPhones, and Apple surely isn’t sitting back relaxing. The next two versions of the iPhone are undoubtedly in development and they will make you rethink your cell phone and how you use it.
Google’s angle (I don’t think gimmick is the right word to use here) has to be “the wonders of open-source.” A majority of their users won’t know the first thing to do to hack their phones but Google should market the hell out of their potential ability to do so. It’s open-source will shove Google and Android to the front, not their version of an app store, 5 mega-pixel cameras, or animated backgrounds.