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Google exits the Smartphone Market

Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 27 Jul 2010

pocketgpsworld.comJust over 6 months after opening its online store for the Nexus One Google has sold the last ever Smartphone. They will still be available around the World as carrier branded devices, but ironically you will not be able to get a new one in the USA.

I remember being at CES in Las Vegas 3 years ago when everyone was talking about the "Google Phone" and how this was going to revolutionise the Smartphone market. Despite the rumours nothing was announced or was even hinted at that year, but still the speculation continued.

It was not until CES this year when all of a sudden Google announced the Nexus One (not at CES) and that it was available for delivery tomorrow. Needless to say a number of exhibitors flashed the plastic and true to their word the new Google Phones with OLED screens started to be seen on the show floor the next day. I got my first glimpse of one on the ALK stand where it was running a demo of Co-Pilot. It looked an amazing device.

There was a lot of speculation that this was the first real contender to knock the iPhone from the #1 smartphone position. Within days Lutz had twisted my arm and we had invested in a Nexus One for PocketGPSWorld.

After a couple of weeks the excitement had dwindled and the Google phone had suddenly become just another Android phone. For sure it was the best Android phone around, but Apple's iPhone crown was obviously not in danger. Now six months further on they are no longer available as the Nexus one, but can still be bought with a Vodafone contract in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. There is a statement on the Nexus One site implying that Google have kept a batch back for special purposes: "The Nexus One is no longer available for direct purchase from Google, but will be made available through a partner for sale to registered developers."

So it looks as if Google's foray into the Smartphone hardware market is over. It is suggested that the only reason that they entered in the first place was to give the Android OS a boost. Although Android is consortium driven open source project with partners including Garmin it is still regarded as being the Google OS on phones.

What does this mean to the Android based smartphone market? Probably not a lot really! The Android market is really driven by the carriers. Very few people buy a Droid because it is an Android phone, they buy it because it is a smartphone from Verizon. The wireless carriers will still drive this market as they will offer apparently cheap phones albeit tied to expensive airtime contracts.

When the Nexus One was announced there was a lot of media and consumer interest, but it never converted into sales and the passion that is associated with the iPhone. This I suspect is partly because the Android system is an open platform, unlike the iPhone market where all devices are (pretty much) the same. A second reason is because the market is fragmented, no single body oversees standards and enforces compatibility. This means that when Android 2.0 came out a lot of users were (and still are) stuck using operator installed older versions of the OS.

I think at the end of the day the Google Phone and Android OS appeal to the sort of person that was happy with Windows Mobile. They like messing around and configuring things, hacking this and that to get things working. All well and good for people like Lutz, who are not happy unless they are tinkering. The man in the street however doesn't want to mess around with his device, he just wants it to work. And this is where Android has not got it right yet.

Will Android step up to the plate and compete on a level footing with Apple? We will have to wait and see. Before they have a chance though the entire infrastructure needs to be revamped to follow a user driven paradigm rather than the mish-mash manufacturer/carrier/developer centric system in place at the moment.
Posted by maddoguk on Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:38 am Reply with quote

For features, multitasking, flexibility and affordability Android has already surpassed the iPhone, and lets be honest the joke that has been the iPhone 4 (and iOS4 update) launch has done nothing good for Apple or the iPhone as a brand.

I think it is worth having a read around before writing off Android phones simply as to "appeal to the sort of person that was happy with Windows Mobile", if anything, iPhone's seem to appeal mainly to the sparkly handbag brigade.

Android sales within the UK have risen 300% since the start of 2010. - "The figures suggest an increasing number of consumers are now asking for Android handsets by name," said GfK analyst Megan Baldock. "Operating systems are no longer simply a by-product but a key selling point in their own right."


Posted by MaFt on Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:46 am Reply with quote

maddoguk Wrote:
if anything, iPhone's seem to appeal mainly to the sparkly handbag brigade.

[removes PGPSW hat]
i have 2 words for this - the first is unprintable, the second is 'you' Twisted Evil
[pgpsw hat back on]

i do not own any sparkly handbags but i love my iphone. i have a htc hero (rooted running android 2.1) as well and i prefer the iphone by a long shot. put simply: it works. the android UI is far more clunky than iOS, the backup and restore system is simply non-existant (why should one have to root and 'hack' to install and use titanium backup?!). for the average end user all the 'extras' of the android OS are a non-issue. for the more advanced users they have some extra features but in terms of usability the iphone wins handsdown. and, let's be honest here, it IS about usability in the end - these are phones we are talking about, devices that people use every hour of everyday. usability is everything.


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