Nexus One marks developer commitment

Google's device unlikely to be iPhone killer but demonstrates company's commitment to driving more powerful apps, notes Singapore developer.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Touted to boost app development efforts on the Android platform, Google's Nexus One phone offers new advanced technical features. But a local developer says the device is unlikely to displace Apple's iPhone.

Dickson Seow, Google's Southeast Asia head of corporate communications, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview that the mobile device will bring new development capabilities and "tips and tricks" that were not previously available on Android devices. The 3D engine, for instance, has been improved, so developers can release more resource-hungry apps, Seow noted.

"Developers [now] have confidence that a more advanced platform is available to them," he said, adding that the Android marketplace now stocks "close to 20,000" apps.

Singapore-based mobile developer, Muh Hon Cheng, acknowledged the improvements Nexus One offers and said he purchased the phone Wednesday as soon as it debuted online.

"I need a faster Android phone for development. A slow phone puts me off, [providing] no motivation to develop on it," Muh said, in an online interview with ZDNet Asia.

He added that Google's closer involvement with the phone also provides a source of confidence in the mobile platform.

Nexus One is expected to be "the best Android phone so far" but was unlikely to unseat the iPhone, said Muh, who based his observation on the build-quality of two previous HTC-manufactured Android phones he owns.

Another Android developer, Chua Zi Yong, has put off his purchase of the Nexus One for now, citing a lack of personal funds.

Chua also told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that he does not see a significant advantage, for development purposes, that the Google phone offers over his existing Android device.

Hong Kong, Singapore first in Asia
Unveiled today, the phone debuts for shipping to the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Google's Seow said the two Asian markets were chosen for their Web and mobile-savvy populations. He noted that Hong Kong and Singapore boasted mobile penetration of 163 percent and 130 percent, respectively, and household broadband adoption of 100 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

"Both places are ideal for a superphone like the Nexus One and we're confident that the users in these two markets will enjoy the [device]," he said.

While availing the phone in the selected territories currently does not require the prerequisite telco deals, he noted that Google had to ensure hardware support was available in these markets.

HTC, which manufactures Nexus One, will be providing hardware repairs and customer support globally, Seow said.

The Google phone is available for sale on the company's site for now, but Google has plans to include other Android devices in an online handset marketplace called the Phone Webstore, said Seow. It will give consumers the option to purchase handsets without having to sign up with an operator.

He added that Motorola's CEO was present at the Nexus One U.S. launch event and expressed interest in the Webstore. Motorola carries an Android device called the Droid.

According to Seow, Google is also "open to exploring [partnership] opportunities with all local telcos in Hong Kong and Singapore".

All three telcos in Singapore said they would be interested in establishing deals to offer the device to their customers.

The country's biggest telco, SingTel, also noted that it "welcomes Google's direct sales approach to customers" and recommended its prepaid lines for customers who have bought the phone directly without service contracts.

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