Google Inc. has unveiled its strategy to bring Android smartphones directly to the consumer market, through its own web store hosted by Google.
The company is also launching the first phone offered through this new model, called the Nexus One, which combines the latest in hardware from HTC Corporation with the newest Android software.
Google says the goal of this new consumer channel is to provide an efficient way to connect Google's online users with selected Android phones. The online experience of the web store has been designed with a focus on simplicity.
Through the web store consumers can buy the Nexus One without service (meaning any GSM network SIM card can be inserted into the device), or purchase the phone with service from one of Google's operator partners. As new phones come to market through this channel, consumers will benefit from the ability to match a phone of their choice with the service plan that best meets their needs. Operator prices and plan details will be featured on the site.
"The Nexus One belongs in the emerging class of devices which we call ‘superphones,’ with the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset making it as powerful as your laptop computer of three to four years ago. It's our way to raise the bar on what's possible when it comes to creating the best mobile experience for consumers," said Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering. "We look forward to working with handset manufacturers and operators to bring more phones to market through this channel worldwide."
Nexus One Hardware Features
* Display: 3.7" AMOLED 480x800 WVGA display
* Thinness: 11.5mm; Weight: 130g
* Processor/Speed: Qualcomm Snapdragon 3G QSD8250 chipset, delivering speeds up to 1GHz
* Camera: 5 megapixel auto focus with flash and geo tagging
* Onboard memory: 512MB Flash, 512MB RAM
* Expandable memory: 4GB removable SD Card (expandable to 32GB)
* Noise Suppression: Dynamic noise suppression from Audience, Inc.
* Ports: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with four contacts for inline voice and remote control
* Battery: Removable 1400 mAh
* Personalized laser engraving: Up to 50 characters on the back of the phone
* Trackball: Tri-color notification LED, alerts when new emails, chats, text messages arrive
"The Nexus One represents the unique combination of design and innovation two companies like Google and HTC can have when they collaborate," said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. "The Nexus One continues HTC’s strategy of offering people a portfolio of phones that meet their diverse needs."
The Nexus One runs on Android 2.1, a version of the platform's Eclair software, which offers advanced applications and features including Google Maps Navigation with turn-by-turn driving directions with voice output, email (including multiple Gmail accounts, universal inbox and Exchange support), social phone book aggregating contacts from multiple sources, including Facebook and access to more than 18,000 applications through the Android Market.
In addition, the Nexus One introduces new functionality and software enhancements, including a voice-enabled keyboard for all text fields, enabling users to enter text without typing.
The smartphone allows users to capture camera-quality pictures and video, with automatic upload to Picasa Web Albums or YouTube.
Nexus One is initially available from the Google web store in the US without service for US$529 or starting at US$179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile USA.
In the near future, Verizon Wireless in the US and Vodafone in Europe plan to offer services to customers in their respective geographies. Currently Google is taking orders from consumers in the US and three other markets – the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
In the coming months Google plans on partnering with additional operators, offering consumers access to a broad set of service plans. In the future we expect to launch more phones with Android handset partners and to expand the web store to more countries.