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Analysis: What the Nexus One doesn't offer

Google superphone lacks tethering and multitouch

Google introduced its new 'superphone', the Nexus One, this week. But, while there's no doubt that the handset is cool, does it really live up the hype?

The Nexus One was expected to be the long-awaited 'Google phone', the so-called device that would be designed, branded and sold by Google. The Nexus One seems to meet two of those three.

"It's inaccurate to say that Google designed the phone," said Andy Rubin, vice-president of engineering at Google. "It's Peter's work," he said, referring to HTC CEO Peter Chou. "We're just merchandising it online in our store."

"It's not a change in the way Google's doing business, except for the sales channel," said Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis.

"In that respect, it's a direct successor to the G1 and the Magic," he said, naming two previously released HTC Android phones.

Google plans to include additional phones made by other manufacturers into the store in the future, executives said.

End of the tether

The Nexus One also won't support tethering, a much sought after feature.

Rubin said the lack of tethering isn't a technical issue but a business issue. That could mean that operators are pressuring Google not to allow it for fear of overloading their networks.

The Nexus One also doesn't support multitouch, like its competitor the iPhone, even though Android software supports it. Rubin wouldn't be drawn on why, saying only that Google will consider adding it.

The phone does not come with any innovative pricing plans like some people had hoped. For instance, there was some speculation that Google might offer some kind of discounts in exchange for displaying ads to users.

Pricing models

When asked about pricing models, Rubin bristled at the description of the offered pricing models as boring. But he hinted that more options might come.

"One thing we're good at at Google is iterating," he said. The first step was to get the online store up and running, from there the search giant can add more ideas.

The Nexus One also won't be available, at least initially, for consumers to examine in a store before buying. Google is going with an online-only model at least at the start.

"Google is seemingly intentionally limiting sales by only selling online," Greengart said. Still, to most consumers who aren't considered 'digirati', the Nexus One probably will look like a great option, he added.

"The combination of technologies at its price point when subsidised is very competitive," Greengart noted. The Nexus One costs $179 (£111) with a T-Mobile contract in the US. Vodafone, the UK carrier for the handset, has yet to release pricing details.

The differences between it and the latest Android-based handset, the Motorola Milestone (known as the Droid in other countries), however, come down to processor and screen.

The Nexus One has a very fast 1Ghz Snapdragon processor and a slightly better screen than the Droid. The Nexus One also has updated software, but they are relatively modest.

Mobile phone buying advice

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See also: Google Nexus One phone coming on Jan 5th?


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