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Google Nexus S

Google Nexus S is real, gets leaked by Best Buy [U] | Electronista.

Can you imagine Microsoft launching a Microsoft branded phone to compete with its Windows Phone licensees? When Microsoft launched the Zune, their licensing model (PlaysForSure) was quietly folded up.

A Google phone makes little sense, but then again Google does not seem to care much about its ecosystem or relationships with Android device vendors. They even claim that they have no idea how many phones are being built using Android and, except for activations, have no way of measuring the number sold.

From their point of view, if Motorola feels it’s unfair to have to compete with a Google branded Samsung (or HTC) designed phone then too bad. There’s lots of white label vendors lined up to make these with or without anyone’s blessing.

In fact, the biggest opportunity for Android growth seems to be the large unlicensed (and illegal) grey market which seems to be rapidly expanding.

  • Shrike

    Yeah, Google doesn't care about its parters. Preaching to the choir here. Their MO is to get as many people using Google's services as possible so that they can sell more advertising. The ecosystem around Android can bleed red for years on end as long as they keep on making devices that can enable usage of more Google services. Google reaps profit. Everyone else can eke out a living.

    Google can be the dominant market & profit share leader here, because the issue at hand is among the device makers, who has the drive to grab the pieces of the pie? A lot of them are just happy to break even. This is how pyramids are built. ;)

    It'll be interesting to see what exactly can disrupt Google. Like IBM with mainframes and MS with office automation, they may will be perfectly happy and moribund with a search advertising monopoly in perpetuity.

    • dchu220

      How to disrupt Google. That's worth a thread of it's own.

      • http://www.notesark.com iphoned

        With Ask exiting search, Google now only has one competitor that seems to lack business competency to compete.

        They are clearly disrupting Apple with Android, but a successful spoiler role is no guarantee of one's own success.

        To the extent that smartphones and tablets + apps replace laptops and desktops + browser as main point of Web access, Google's access to its customers will be limited by the "goodwill" of the platform owners. There is not even a certainty for Google services to be on all Android devices as we've seen already. In China for example, we are unlikely to see any Android phones with Google services as default.

        Any meaningful success of Windows Mobile 7 will take a huge toll on that access as will any turnaround of Nokia or Blackberry.

        So my sense is that the future doesn't look that rosy for Google as they are not used to having their access so restricted.

      • FalKirk

        I don't agree that Android is disrupting iOS. That's the popular perception, but it's totally untrue. Apple is selling phones as fast as they can make them. No disruption there. And since the only thing impeding iOS phone market growth is production constraints, that means that Apple's market share would be exactly the same today whether Android existed or not.

        The analogy I use is the game of Risk. You start on one side of the board, I start on the other. We both grow as fast as we can until we finally meet somewhere in the middle. That approximates the current state of iOS and Android growth today. At some point, say in about two years, smartphones are going saturate the market and then they will have take share from others in order to gain share for themselves. Until that day comes, both Android and iOS – and even Windows Phone 7 – can all simultaneously grow as fast as they are able.

      • r00fus

        Your analogy is flawed; the smartphone market is expanding, so it's like playing Risk with new countries popping up all over the place (you can see how that blows your analogy apart).

      • http://www.notesark.com iphoned

        >>I don't agree that Android is disrupting iOS.

        Disrupting they are with a capital D to the extent they are walking away with customers, for whatever reason.

      • dchu220

        I think you guys are discounting that the cellphone market is extremely volatile. People change cellphones faster than computers. The big big key point here is if these platforms can develop killer exclusive apps or features that can keep users locked in. (Blackberry has BBM, Android has Google services integration, Win7 has MS Serives, iPhone has the best games and iMovie).

        What MS had that killed Apple outside of price was control of the platform and the two most important programs during its time in Word and Excel.

        It is way too early to crown Android the king as we have only seen one real sales cycle with their products. Things can change very fast in this market.

        My guess is that Apple sees the same thing, which is why they are content to play the premium game for now, instead of going for market share as they have with iPods and iPads.

      • asymco

        I too would question Google disruption of Apple. First because Apple is competing in mobile computing market with iOS not in the phone market per se. That market is far from being over-served. Second because as others pointed out, the market is barely penetrated and Apple has many degrees of freedom to change its positioning. Thirdly because profit shift from incumbent to entrant is the measure of disruption. I don't see any profit shift happening from Apple to Google in devices for many years to come.

      • kevin

        I wouldn't use the word "disrupting" here. But clearly Android has made available a good-enough phone option that very much takes advantage of Apple/AT&T's mistakes.

        Apple was counting on its partnership with AT&T to keep its edge over competitors but AT&T and the partnership failed, allowing Verizon-Android to gain a beachhead. Remember that the first year of Android on T-mobile and Sprint was underwhelming; it was the coming of Droid and Android 2.0 that started its growth. AT&T failed to provide tethering, and blocked/limited video streaming when Apple had it ready. They're still blocking Facetime. They still haven't fixed the drop call and poorer coverage issues. And though AT&T had a headstart on HSDPA and the iPhone 3G had 3.6/iPhone 3GS had 7.2, T-mobile is implementing HSDPA as quick if not quicker than AT&T.

        Verizon had to spend a lot to get Android started, and though Android stemmed defections, it hasn't done much to help Verizon gain new subscribers, thus the rumored deal with Apple. At this point, Apple can't wait to get away from AT&T. I tend to believe future iPhone enhancements requiring carrier support will wind up being functional first on Verizon.

      • asymco

        Your comments only apply to the US market which is only 30 to 40 percent of Apple's volume. Apple has around 100 carrier deals in place. That is a relatively small number compared to the 530 for RIM and over 600 for Nokia.

    • http://www.kertongroup.com Derek Kerton

      Yeah. Doesn't it drive you nuts when a company cares more about customers and end users than they do about their partners? I mean, just rolling out a steady stream of new features that are useful, most of them free. It'll drive ya crazy!

      Making benchmark phones that force their partners to raise their game? It's just not fair. It was so much better when handset companies, and more so carriers, could just put out lame phones, and control the whole industry.

      Ha!
      Get a grip, dude. Apple and Google are in a tight race to put out the best phones that delight the customers. Everyone is forced to compete, and woe be to the companies that sit on their thumbs (Nokia). This is what competition looks like when it works well…the winner is the consumer, not the "partners" you seem to cry for.

  • kevin

    Did Google look at all its Android vendors and conclude that none of them were capable of really competing with Apple at the high end? That would be just like Microsoft when it lashed out at its PlaysforSure partners, and decided to make the Zune.

    Did Google see the weakness in their modular or open system setup when it comes to the higher-priced innovation-dependent end of the market? Did they recognize what happens when their vendors have no knowledge and no input/control of the OS/software direction? HTC's thoughts about doing their own "bone-deep" thing with Android makes even more sense now. It wouldn't surprise me if the others start to fork in a bone-deep way as well, or start to commit more resources to WinPhone 7.

  • Joe_Winfield_IL

    Google is a strange company. With the Nexus One, they created a great product. Then they proceeded to make it impossible to buy, and put no marketing behind it whatsoever. They chose the weakest of the 4 major US carriers as the exclusive provider. I'm curious to see what they think they learned from this fiasco before putting out the Nexus S.

    I disagree somewhat with the Zune analogy, as Android is thriving in a way that PlaysForSure never was. Microsoft put out Zune as a last ditch effort to break the iPod monopoly. Google's motivation for the Nexus line is unclear, except as a prototype – almost like a concept car. I think they are more interested in showcasing the Google experience, free of all the garbage that OHA partners and mobile carriers load onto the devices. Actual unit sales seems like a secondary concern, or at least it seemed that way with the first foray.

    With Android being offered as open source, the OEMs are free to load up on software from competitors of Google. It seems as though Google would be best served to discourage this behavior as much as possible, and a heavy push with Nexus achieves the opposite effect. T-Mobile is likely the only US carrier willing to offer a no-strings contract, so Google has a practical ceiling on how many of these things they can sell.

    • http://twitter.com/TektonikShift @TektonikShift

      Joe,
      I saw the same thing which Intel in the PC industry.

      The rational for such action:
      "With the Nexus One, they created a great product. Then they proceeded to make it impossible to buy, and put no marketing behind it whatsoever."
      …its a form of "leading the target".
      Its a way to (a) get the ecosystem to adopt the latest features, capabilities and technologies and/or (b) demonstrate what is possible in Android phones.

      The poor marketing execution makes sense, Google wants the ecosystem (SS, Mot, HTC and so on) to fast follow (and better) the Nexus products.
      Also, its a way for Google to test market new technologies, capabilities, services …. showing the ecosystem the technology is safe/ready for real world deployment.

      -Tek http://www.twitter.com/@TektonikShift

  • http://twitter.com/TektonikShift @TektonikShift

    Horace,
    You are right;
    "In fact, the biggest opportunity for Android growth seems to be the large unlicensed (and illegal) grey market which seems to be rapidly expanding."

    However, these are not the best quality smartphones. Google needs Samsung, Motorola and the like to make high quality Androids competitive with iPhone fit-finish.

    -Tek

    • r00fus

      Not to mention the ASP will fall off a cliff if this market is targeted.

    • Jolly T.

      Apple doesn't make their phones. Foxconn does. Hypothetically, you can order anything from Foxconn or Quanta with your own brand name and have the same fit and finish.

      • asymco

        You are suggesting that a contract manufacturer can create any quality you wish to ask for. It would follow that any device can have any level of quality of manufacturing. So the question is why aren't all phones of equal mechanical quality?

      • Jolly T.

        Because they are hardly mechanical? Do you really wonder where all those switches come from? Click the top power switch of an iPhone. Do the same on a Nexus One. Note the size of the switch. The feel of the switch. Are they really different? Or are they coming from the same Chinese supplier?

        Foxconn also makes Nokia handsets.

  • WaltFrench

    I wonder how much this is a shot across the bow of the carriers' practice of withholding OS updates for unspecified reasons (by some accounts, to sell NEW phones). Not to mention that carriers are implementing various ways of locking the new Androids to their proprietary stores, OS upgrades, etc.

    IMO, one of the ugliest aspects of Android is that only a minority of devices are on Froyo, even tho they're ALL so new. And there are a couple of HUGE bennies to Froyo, Flash and the fast Java VM that makes 3rd party apps run nicely coming especially to mind. The bloatware and lockdowns are mere insults added to the injury.

    Look at the latest Consumer Reports top-rated Androids. Version 2.1, and I'd guess at this stage, zero probability of getting Froyo, let alone Gingerbread. Maybe for technical reasons (only a half gig of RAM), but that, too, goes to the fact that the carriers tell the OEMs what specs to build to, no?

    • Ted_T

      Walt, I agree with your conclusion, but sighting Flash as a benefit is plain wrong — just read the reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Tab — most of the complaints about the browsing experience center on Flash. Google would have been much better off if they kept Flash out of Android, as Android wouldn't have gotten a totally unnecessary black eye.

      • Jake

        On an Android browser, you can make Flash optional. It would scroll as fast as the page without Flash. Clicking on the marked box, you can activate the Flash content.

      • WaltFrench

        @Ted_T, I followed Gruber's advice on removing Flash from my MacBookPro except for its self-contained existence in Chrome. That sandboxes all of Flash's issues for me. I am constantly outraged that Adobe gets a free pass in claiming Jobs is the problem when Adobe hasn't put it on ANY device comparable to an iPhone — one with less than a Gig of RAM *or* a CPU slower than 1GHz — and it is a POS on machines such as the higher-priced Froyo boxes and my MBP, which has LOTS of headroom (no excuses).

        So I'm no fan, but YES, I WANT Flash functionality. Bugs the bejeezus out of me when some stupid restaurant has a home page that you can't get thru w/o Flash. That recently cost CoiRestaurant.Com a reservation for five because when we couldn't book while out w/ only an iPhone — couldn't even see a phone number on their site — we picked Quince instead. (They also have a "Missing Plug-In" landing page but a legible "Skip Intro" button. And a wonderful assortment of Italian, Northern Cal dishes, wines & great service. Worked out OK.)

        Unquestionably, there's content out there — badly-thought-out such as Coi's or DanielNYC's, whose precious Chef playing googly eyes with oysters is tolerable for their wonderful food, but are too stupid to have a webmaster re-code around it, or old-fashioned types who don't know enough to care about mobile users, period — that requires Flash. So the availability of Flash, even unstable, turd-slow Flash, is a benefit.

    • Jake

      9 out of 10 Consumer Reports top 10 smartphones are Androids and the only one not an Android is not recommended either. Its the iPhone. Froyo actually accounts for over 40% of all Androids now and over 70% are Android 2.1 and above.

      • asymco

        10 out of 10 Consumer Reports reports are opinion. Why bother with "expert opinion" when you can get satisfaction survey data that measure what users actually think.

      • WaltFrench

        So what does 2.1 say about Flash? Nothing. Actually, a worse-than-useless statistic, since it says, "new phone that probably will NEVER see Flash because their carriers obviously aren't hustling to support the device with a Froyo upgrade.

        And the web designers who embed Flash are fooling themselves even if they think the 7% of mobile users who potentially COULD run Flash (39% Froyo of 19% Android share), actually do. As you say, turning it off when you don't need it is almost a requirement for decent browsing. So while I would be pleased to see Flash on mobiles, I think it criminal that webmasters for sites that want traffic from the fastest-growing clientele, don't put 2 and 2 together and find a way to serve the mobile clientele. Even if we're so stupid that we buy iPhones or iPads — or BlackBerrys or WinPhone7s or Nokias or non-upgradable Androids or …

      • Jake

        Web designers actually use embedded YouTube, which also runs Flash. Much of the time you click on an embedded video on a mobile web page inside an iPhone it heads to the YouTube app. Nokia also has YouTube apps, and Blackberry's default video player does run YouTube.

        Of course, YouTube is owned by Google.

        Many feature phones, and various HTC smartphones also load Flash lite.

      • WaltFrench

        I've set my web browser to inform sites that it's the iPad's mobile Safari, and if the website doesn't figure out a decent compatible feature, I have a key combo that opens the page in Chrome. So I can easily tell those sites that are Flash-only. And I subscribe to several paywalled news services, which have incentive to DRM their video.

        A few provide no alternative to Flash, and I flip over. Many are just fine — they see I don't have Flash and switch to a compatible video format.

        Win-win when I'm on my notebook; I don't have the destabilizing of the buggy Flash plug-in (for one, every time I hit a page with Flash, the Real Memory in my system monitor went up, and never went down when I closed the page. Eventually: crash city.

        YouTubes almost (?) always play nicely by giving me an h.264 video. No need to flip around. That's what you see when the iPod/iPhone/iPad invoke the YouTube player.

      • Jake

        You don't know what an Android browser does when it has Flesh set as an option, do you? On the part of the web page that has the Flash display, it would leave a blank window with a green arrow on it facing downward.

        Its not really that different from the way an iPhone would display a webpage with Flash. Mark the areas with Flash with a blank box.

        In this mode, there is no speed penalty. There is no stability penalty either.

        The difference is that if I press on the grey box with the arrow, the Flash plugin would activate. Mind you it works perfectly well—it would even copy the exact frame of the video player as it appears on the desktop browser. And it works.

        This even works on news websites with real time streaming video.

        And if it's YouTube, I would flip over to the new Android YouTube app, which allows you to view the video in just a portion of the screen, and while reading—and addressing comments made to it.

  • berult

    The NexusS is nothing but a "S"tatement, a flexing of creative muscles, on a real, effective, alternate "in house" power train, and Google's overarching goal of reigning in outside interference into its advertising ecosystem.

    A prime directive to minion vendors and expendable flag bearers that, every once in a while, the Presidency expends and contracts on the State of The Union. With Microsoft encroaching on Google's vending machine, a ripple of fear and insecurity throughout the chaotic Google universe sets the laws of gravity, entropy and serendipity in motion.

    Google is "The" Nexus, …and the capitalized S stands for the capitalized plural of threat.  

    • dchu220

      Huh?

  • D.Z.

    Is it possible, that Google just provide source code of future public release GB to ALL their main Android customers before official piblication of this Android release and NexusS is just prototype of first Samsung product with GB and all other main players (Motorola, HTC, SonyEricsson, LG) also do have the similar ones?

    • dchu220

      If that is true, why only limit to one partner and why put their name on it?

      When Microsoft launched Win7, they wanted to show off all their manufacturing partners. That builds continued support from OEMs. I'm sure the new phone will have some really cool features, but playing a game of favorites is a dangerous game.

      Despite the fact that manufacturing has become commoditized, there are only a handful of OEMs out there who can make Android phones at the quality and scale needed for Android to succeed in the long term. Taking a Darwinian approach to these vendors is going to end up doing Android more harm than good.

  • OpenMind

    Google's intention could be benign. NexusS could very well be intended to be a developer platform. But any diligent management of Android OEM should have Plan B in case Google stables you on the back. Google has demonstrated its willingness to do just that many times before. (Don't be evil or be evil itself?)

    • Joe_Winfield_IL

      When have they shown this tendency? Nothing comes immediately to mind for me, but I could be missing something obvious.

      • OpenMind

        Well, a couple here: to content companies, either licensed their content on Google's terms or else the pirated clips would remain at YouTube. Content fought back. Google CEO on the board of Apple while developing Android with inside knowledge of iOS.

      • dave

        yes. the apple board thing was not too ethical of mr schmidt.

      • Joe_Winfield_IL

        OK, granted neither one of those acts was particularly friendly. But neither of these examples involved anywhere near the type of turnabout that you are suggesting with Android.

        -The YouTube battle was more about precedent than anything else. It is very difficult to keep a site as big as YouTube completely free of pirated material, and Google does not want to be legally defined as the owner of this content. Use your imagination to see the numerous ways in which this precedent could hurt Google. What if child pornography briefly made its way onto their servers. Or WikiLeaks style defense secrets. It was less about movie licensing than defining responsibility.

        -Schmidt should have recused himself of all discussions re: mobile at the Apple board meetings. There is no doubt about this. But as a director in Apple, he was acting as an independent board member, not as the CEO of a competitor.

        This board of directors guffaw is more egregious than the YouTube example, but there is still a key difference from your fear of OHA OEMS being "stabbed in the back." Google did not have a significant portion of its revenue directly tied to the success of the iPhone the way that they do with Android. The Apple board was a conflict of interest for Schmidt, where he made the wrong decision. Killing the OHA would just be stupid at this phase.

  • Iphoned

    A monopoly is a terrible thing to waste.

  • Billy

    Could Google slowly be sharing the love… this time next year it will be a Motoroal Nexus Droid doing the rounds? And in 2012 a SonyEricsson Nexus Xperia?

    Could the strategy be (odd as it may seem) to "gift" in strict rotation (perhaps they drew straws) each big name backer their own Nexus?

    • Steko

      HTC wants a do over.

    • dchu220

      Very possible. The upside is that you create less confusion by focusing on one product. The downside is that OEMs will continue to hedge against you just in case. Now you have HTC talking about bone deep modifications to Android.

      It's like a marriage where both people are miserable.

    • WaltFrench

      Unfortunately "sharing the love" is like the guy with a half dozen girlfriends each kept barefoot and pregnant. The OEMs operate on VERY thin margins and especially with Android, where they have almost no freedom to differentiate products, have no chance to get market power versus the carriers. For example, if you're Motorola, with no proprietary CPU, comparable engineering expertise, 3rd party screens, batteries, support chips, manufacturing, etc., how can you charge a penny more for your follow-on to the Droid2? That's a Verizon brand name running a Google OS. Your "customer" is not the end user but VZ.

      And I'll assert that Google absolutely knows that they are serving [mostly] Verizon's power plays by offering Android the way that they do.

  • Himosan

    "A Google phone makes little sense"

    I think it makes sense for Google as part of their bigger picture goal. What does google want? They want to maximize ad revenues i.e. maximize the number of smartphones sold i.e. minimize carrier profits i.e. put the squeeze on all non-data charges.

    They put the squeeze on from the outside with Google Voice and handset maker pressure (we need this feature to lure buyers from iphone/att), and from the inside via a huge coterie of apps (text, talk, tethering, video calls, ringtones, wallpapers). And the Nexus is part of this, taking away the ability of the carriers to sell search rights to Bing or cherry pick which apps run.

    So I really see the Nexus as a move against the carriers not the handset makers. I believe Google will make it more then worth Samsung's while, giving them a much better margin from the Nexus then it gets from other Galaxy's.

  • Steko

    "A Google phone makes little sense"

    I think it makes sense as part of the overall fight vs the carriers. Google ultimately wants to maximize the number of smartphones sold i.e. minimize carrier profits.

    They put the squeeze on the carriers from outside with Google Voice and via handset manufactures fighting for concessions (we need this to lure people away from iphone/att …) and then from the inside through a plethora of apps (voip, text, tethering, video calls). And then the nexus is part of this effort — the carriers can't resell search to Bing or put their bloatware on it or establish carrier billing for apps, etc.

    • dchu220

      Fighting the carriers is a losing battle.

      There isn't a current substitute for them right now. And don't forget that in order to disrupt the carriers, we need a more cost effective solution. It's unlikely that the carriers haven't explored every potential cost effective solution.

    • WaltFrench

      “Google ultimately wants to maximize the number of smartphones sold i.e. minimize carrier profits.”

      No, Google wants the biggest share of a rapidly-expanding market. Android would be nowhere without a heavy commitment from Verizon — look at the paltry results on AT&T, while Spring and T-Mo just don't have the traffic levels to matter.

      Just as Apple doesn't bad-mouth AT&T's network, Google is not about to attack the carriers' central interest. Tethering, VoIP, etc is all provided, just as with iPhone, exactly consistent with what the carrier dictates in its sole determination of what features any given phone supports.

      Verizon got blindsided by the popularity of iPhone after they told Apple to shove it. They had to get in the new game. They gave up some of their control-freak mentality, but now that they have a competitive offering, are locking down the phones (frinstance, only VZ-approved OS versions) and data plans back to how they maximize profits. They have recovered very nicely and are turning good profits plus growth. They will try to play off Apple against Google in their negotiations and it'll be very interesting to see what terms Apple reaches.

  • http://twitter.com/dutchtender @dutchtender

    I don't know. Is it a google phone? or a samsung phone? samsung is building it. they are getting paid for it. Not sure how this is much different than other samsung phones except that it's not going to be sold by a carrier apparently.

    • asymco

      When a product is branded then several responsibilities are taken on by the brander (OEM). Typically this includes the cost of marketing and sales and support. There is also inventory cost plus warranty cost. Depending on the relationship with the ODM or designer, there might be some product development cost as well.

      In the case of the Nexus One, Google did not pay almost any of these costs and nobody did either. So it should not be a surprise that the product did not sell.

  • Somebody

    There is ***NOTHING*** illegal or grey about an unlicensed android phone vendor. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF ANDROID!!!! Anyone can use it withOUT retard licensing.

    • asymco

      The licensing is not what's illegal. The article refers to the grey market for devices which are illegal because of they don't have IMEIs and are therefore banned (though widely available) in most countries. Those devices are today usually generic or clones of low end phones. It's very probable that they will soon be running Android (if they aren't already).

  • http://konccepts.com/blog/ Som

    The trendy handset is really amazing for its features . It may be a rumour that it is going to be launched in India . However the outbreak of Andro-fever is certain .