It's easy to get excited about the new Google smartphone, called Nexus One. It's a magnificent device and if ever there was something that could be labeled "an iPhone killer," this is probably the closest we've seen of it.
And while I sort of go out on a limb with a statement like that, I don't do so because of this specific device, but rather because of what it represents - the next wave of Android's software and hardware enhancements and a carrier roadmap that should have other smartphone players thinking twice about their own strategies.
I'm particularly excited about the Nexus One because of its design - sleek, slim and light. I've been using the Droid pretty much since it launched and the only complaint I've had about it has been the bulkiness of it, caused by the slide-out physical keyboard that I never use. I would prefer the Nexus One on Verizon instead of T-Mobile, but that's a temporary inconvenience. Verizon will launch in the Spring.
There are plenty of things to get excited about on the software and operating system side, even though the experience isn't much different from the Droid. The integration with other Google properties, such as Gmail, calendar and especially Maps is top-notch on Droid, for example. I actually didn't think it could get much better but then Google integrated voice technology into the navigation and mapping features and suddenly I can envision my searches getting easier to manage on a mobile device and the results coming back more relevant.
Which brings me to the next point: Google is still a search and advertising company and the execs yesterday quickly mentioned that mobile searches are up 5x. Isn't that what's really driving Google here? The company isn't going to manufacture phones or provide service for them. But they do want them using Android phones and conducting Google searches - even if they don't look like conventional searches.
So why not make it easy for consumers to shop for Android phones by putting them in an online store that's got the brand reputation of Google behind it? After all, that's what's driven iPhone sales - Apple, not AT&T. Eventually, consumers should be able to choose from a lineup of Android-powered phones - some with more bells and whistles than others - and then link them to the carrier of choice.
Think about how you shop now for a Blackberry, which also has several models available on different carriers. There's no Blackberry store where you can pick your device and then link it to a carrier and be done with it. Maybe there should be.
I overheard some people at the Google event buzzing about it being a non-event, just an announcement of a specific mobile device that was nice - but not necessarily worthy of the fanfare. But I disagree, There's plenty of reason to celebrate because Google, with Nexus One, is showing that it will continue to raise the bar with the Android OS while its manufacturing partners continue to innovate and deliver devices that consumers want.
When Apple launched the iPhone, it revolutionized the smartphone game. But Google has come up strong in the last year and really has the potential to re-write the rules of the game. Nexus One is just the latest example of what the company - and its partners - are capable of bringing to market.
As much as I've said over and over again that I have iPhone envy, I have to say that after just a few hours with Nexus One - and more importantly, Android 2.1 - I would have to rethink an iPhone purchase.
I might miss Android too much.