1. SpaceLump's Avatar
    Google Nexus One Gets Possible Price, Launch Date

    by Sascha Segan

    Google on Tuesday sent out invitations for a January 5 "Android press gathering" at their Mountain View, Calif. campus. Most everyone expects the event will be the official unveiling of the Nexus One mobile phone, although Google didn't say as much in the invitation.

    The final piece of the Nexus One puzzle (supposedly) fell into place when Gizmodo and Engadget posted leaked documents purporting to show the Nexus One's price: $529.99 "unlocked" or $179.99 with a two-year T-Mobile contract and a very specific, limited service plan.

    I put "unlocked" in quotes because according to everything we've seen so far, the Nexus One only works properly on T-Mobile's network here in the U.S. Even though you can use it on AT&T's system, it will be restricted to 2G, which with a powerful smartphone like the Nexus One would be a little like watching famed runner Oscar Pistorius without his carbon-fiber legs.

    If that is indeed the pricing, the Google narrative changes here from "are they going to disrupt the wireless industry?" to "do they want to sell any of these at all?" For an unlocked, high-end smartphone, $529.99 is pretty standard. Without a contract, the Nokia E72 is around $400, the Motorola Droid is $559.99, and the iPhone 3GS is $599.99. None of them are big sellers at those prices.

    Gizmodo says that to get a $179.99 Nexus One you'll need to sign up for a single, specific T-Mobile plan (500 minutes, unlimited data), which makes absolutely zero sense unless Google doesn't actually want to sell any phones.

    I hope that this phone will sell with the full T-Mobile range of plans, just like any other T-Mobile smartphone. So given that this is just like any other T-Mobile smartphone, why is Google making so much of a fuss over it?

    I don't have a good guess, and there's no evidence to support any conclusions here. But here's a bad guess: Google is testing the waters, laying the groundwork, and deciding whether or not they want to get into the hardware business more disruptively. Note that I'm not saying they have already decided to do so. Rather, this is a trial balloon for the power of their brand and their ability to manipulate ODMs and carriers. Can they get press to show up at a thunderously inconveniently timed announcement? What sorts of demands are carriers easily willing to acceed to - and which take more work? They're learning by doing, and the information gathered by this rather modest effort will inform their future attempts.

    On the other hand, they could have some sort of blockbuster surprise next week. We just don't know, but we'll be covering the event when it happens, from 1-4pm Eastern time
    12-31-09 01:47 PM