Reports: Google undocked Nexus One phone confirmed

Why so much excitement? Google already sells undocked Android phones

On Monday the rumor once again hit that Google was planning to sell its own Android, undocked phone next year. Today, the Wall Street Journal published an article confirming the story.

The phone even had a name, the Nexus One. It was reportedly designed by Google, will be manufactured by HTC and could be available as early as January 5.

A report with many details on the phone came from Reuters on Monday, citing unnamed sources. Endgadget published pictures, too.

Some of the details just didn't make sense. For instance, why January 5? Right after the holiday season? Most folks who need a phone around this time of year will have their new phone by December 25, don't you think?

And if you were going to launch a new undocked phone about two weeks after the gift-giving season, wouldn't you officially announce it to the world? That's Consumer Electronics Marketing 101. Announce your product so that you stall out purchases of competing products while folks wait for yours to come out. Google certainly isn't above that sort of thing, as the clamor it made over its Google Chrome OS device last month proved.

But I'm growing more convinced thanks to the Wall Street Journal story. It cited unnamed sources confirming the Google-designed phone and its name, Nexus One, and that it will be available undocked. The WSJ was a little more vague as to when the phone will be available, vaguely pegging it to be out sometime in 2010.

So perhaps this is Google's way of letting the world know about the phone without officially announcing it and angering its other Android phone manufacturers, who want their piece of the holiday season pie.

The WSJ article notes:

"As of October, nine Android devices had been announced with 32 carriers, including Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc., a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG. HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and Motorola Inc. have launched or announced mobile devices based on Android."

This wouldn't be the first undocked Android phone, but could be the first for the consumer. The Technorati Android blog notes that Google is already selling two undocked Android phones, though these will only be sold to registered Android developers. In any case, Android Dev Phone 1 is a version of the T-Mobile G1 and Android Dev Phone 2 is a variation of the HTC Magic (or when purchased from T-Mobile with a carrier plan the MyTouch).

As you might expect, the Nexus One phone phone will be a touchscreen, but it will differ from other Android offerings in that Google will have designed the software experience, with a unique UI extending from the phones screens to the applications bundled with it.

PC World's David Coursey has speculated that, "Because unlocked phones are such a novelty in the U.S., my guess is most unlocked Nexus One handsets will be sold in foreign markets." However, Endgadget showed in its photos that this HTC phone does seem to have FCC approval. The reports originally stated that the Google phone will also be sold via T-Mobile, in adddition to an undocked version, so there's the possibility that all of the above will turn out to be true.

I have to agree with Coursey's analysis, who contends that this phone will not likely be all that attractive to businesses.

"When you can buy an iPhone or Droid for $199 and get Verizon or AT&T as a carrier, why would you pay twice or three times as much for a phone that works only with T-Mobile (and maybe AT&T)? And that presumes you aren't like most purely business users, effectively handcuffed to a Blackberry. Let me suggest another way this works out: T-Mobile sells the Nexus One, but the voice service as provided as VOIP by Google, meaning that customers need is a monthly data plan."

People have been shouting "iPhone killer" with every new smart phone that has emerged. Android has as least as much a chance of biting into Apple's market as any other platform. But it will have to do something extraordinary. I'm not hearing extraordinary in the news so far, but would love for Google to pleasantly surprise me.

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