I have a had few days to play with the Nexus. Its an incredible phone, not so incredible that it will shake the iPhone from my grasp but incredible enough that it will have a huge impact on the cell phone industry.
Compared to the iPhone, my Nexus* has a beautiful screen, incredible speed, much better integration of online social networking tools and a better Maps experience.
By the same token it is more complicated to configure and operate and functions best in the cloud. It is missing the simplicity of single button control, tight iTunes integration, doesn’t work well with Exchange and is still missing some basic features that Apple has defined as the new standard for smartphones like copy & paste and multi-touch. With but one upgrade of hardware and software by Apple, most of the Nexus’s current advantages will be gone.
It is a gorgeous phone, with a beautiful implementation that doesn’t quite match up the iPhone’s overall usability. So is the Nexus One Google’s “iPhone killer”?
While it may be a TeleAtlas killer, an iPhone killer it is not. Not just because of the hardware though.
The telling fact is that the Nexus really only runs well on one second tier cell provider in the US. T-Mobile is, at the end of the day a minor player, with but a fraction of ATTs or Verizon’s subscriber base and roughly an 8% market share. While the phone does run on the ATT network, very few will pay $600 to run it at the slower Edge speeds to which it is limited on their network. It is difficult to kill the iPhone let alone conquer the world from the diminishing market share of T-Mobile.
Something much more subtle and nuanced and simultaneously bold is going on here.
The iPhone when first introduced was viewed by market pundits as a long shot. In a few years, it has become the de facto standard and in doing so has threatened not just Microsoft, Palm and Nokia but RIM as well. It has taken the hardware market a long time to catch up. Microsoft didn’t do it, RIM didn’t do it, Nokia didn’t do it. Palm came close but nobody believed that they had the staying power nor presence to make a difference.
It took two years and a non-traditional player in the phone business but Google seems to have finally matched the iPhone with quality, features, panache and staying power. In succeeding where others have yet to succeed, the Nexus One is, in some sense, the second coming of the iPhone. It’s the first iPhone that isn’t an iPhone.
It may not be the iPhone killer that the press seems to want for but more importantly it could very well be Google’s admission ticket to a relationship with AT&T and the big leagues of the cell wars.
*Note I was given a Nexus by Google so please take any positive comments that I make with a grain of salt and as a potential conflict of interest.