Google's Nexus Will Change Smartphone Landscape

As more and more information and pictures of the Google Phone or Nexus 1 leak out, I am convinced that this is a game-changing event. But probably not for the reasons you are expecting.

Google's phone runs Android 2.1 which is pretty similar to what the Verizon/Motorola Droid runs (2.0.1) currently. The processor on the Google phone is certainly an update if it is a 1 GHz Snapdragon chip from Qualcomm as has been reported. The Droid has a physical keyboard and the Nexus does not. Depending on how you feel about physical keyboards, one or the other will suit you better - I am in the "no physical keyboard camp".

But hardware isn't the big difference. Heck, you can get hardware (HTC HD2?) that smokes both the Droid, Nexus and everything else out there and it really doesn't make a huge difference (because it runs WinMob).

At some point in the future, the Droid will run the same 2.1 Android OS. It will have the same voice to text features as well. The Droid is also be on a better network than Google's Nexus 1 (Tmoble is the suspected "official" carrier) The processors are pretty close in speed and the form factors of these smart phones are now only coming down to putting as big a touch screen as you can on the smallest device possible.

So if it isn't hardware, and it isn't software, what makes the Google phone a game-changer?

The monumental difference is that the Google Phone is going carrier-less and they have a monster VoIP plan to back it up. You see, Google's alliances with Verizon and T-Mobile are all smoke and mirrors. They really just want the telcos to turn into dumb pipes as soon as possible.

Google purchased Grand Central, which became Google Voice a few years ago. Google Voice blows away any telco in voice message functionality and also kills them on prices to International destinations. The international calling plans are often even lower than Skype in many instances. Google Voice wasnt a full VoIP service, however. It would use your POTS or mobile line to connect to the VoIP call. It wouldn't go the last mile.

Google was playing up this "we're not a Telco" recently in its fight with AT&T over calls to rural areas. Google claimed exemption from FCC rules because they didn't connect calls from end to end.

But now Google has purchased a full, big VoIP provider in Gizmo5 and guess what? They are a Telco -- probably the the most exciting one out there. The Internet is their infrastructure and computers, and more importantly Smartphones, are their handsets.

Google now can blow by Skype as the world's largest VoIP provider in terms of users in a few quick moves. Every single one of Google's account holders will be given access to a voice account - much like they already have with their Google Talk accounts -- but these will be able to make phone calls all the way to landlines using Gizmo5's SIP VoIP technology.

Skype should have been making this exact move over the past five years. They've basically been stagnant since eBay got involved. Now it is too late for them.

Google doesn't have to charge a penny for infrastructure in the traditional telco sense. That is all paid for by the ISPs (and thereby customers). All they have to do is scale up Gizmo5's VoIP technology so that it can handle the massive switching from Internet to POTS calls and they can start moving. Google reportedly also bought 1 million phone numbers from Level 3. Soon, Google will have its own area code!

This phone won't be cheap, because it won't have a telco subsidy attached. I'd guess a $499 price point but that could vary a lot depending on how Google plans on monetizing the product. But to people like me, who want to get rid of my $120/month phone charges by using VoIP, that isn't a huge price to pay.

This isn't just a boon for consumers. Businesses on Google Apps will have a field day with integrated voice services.

Though T-Mobile will "support" the device, I believe many will use it without any T-Mobile service. They'll either use it as a VoIP phone when they are connected home or work wifi, throw in their SIM card from their iPhone or use mobile broadband wifi adapters like Mifis.

Ad the Telcos are never going to know what hit them...

This story, "Google's Nexus Will Change Smartphone Landscape" was originally published by Computerworld.

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