Many fine folks tethered to an AT&T contract were salivating at the Nexus One when it was released for T-Mobile over the holidays. Those who simply couldn’t wait, and didn’t mind settling for slower, EDGE data speeds bought an unlocked N1 from Google and went merrily on their way. And finally, months after the aftermath of Google’s phone distribution paradigm shift “whatever” debacle, AT&T users finally see the device come to their 3G network. Rejoice!
It is quite obvious why folks stuck with AT&T as their provider would lust for the Nexus One, and many bought one before it supported AT&T’s 3G GSM signals. The phone itself is a sick piece of hardware, despite various screen dust and signal issues some users have reported on the xda-devs forums.
Many people scratched their head in wonderment as Google’s “new standard” for Android devices on first release went to one of the smallest carriers in the US. Some speculate that Google, who sold the devices at a modest $530, was not looking to make a killing on the sale of hardware like Apple or HTC. Rather, they are working to build their mobile advertising market share before the market is even in full bloom.
Smart! But why not AT&T first? After all, they have the iPhone family, so shouldn’t Google have struck there first?
Well, maybe they should have. With the recent announcement that Apple will be starting its own mobile advertising platform (iAds) with the release of iPhone OS 4, Google will have a new challenge — not only will Android handsets now have to compete with whatever hat trick Apple pulls out in June with the iPhone 4, complete with a much more Android-like iPhone OS (including limited multi-tasking, folders, more app space, and much more enterprise-friendly features than Android 2.1 currently offers), they will have to compete for advertising dominance in a market already glut-full of Applephiles and iFanboys.
But I digress. The fact is that the fine Android supporters who are, for one reason or another, bound to AT&T, the light shines on thee! The Nexus One available with 3G support for AT&T users means there is another Android device available on one of the largest networks with the ability to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the iPhone and do some damage.
This should terrify Apple. Not because 50 million iPhone users will switch to the Android platform overnight, but because developers (those who write applications that create the ecosystem that gives a device its lifespan) have spoken out in large number about Apple’s unfair, inconsistent, sporadic, and often unjustified approval and rejection process.
Here’s Google’s strategy:
- Give developers the freedom to create, and watch them flourish. No approval process for apps, but impose certain clear rules at the outset.
- Don’t charge developers much to get started ($25 versus Apple’s $99).
- Don’t require the use of approved hardware (Android SDK available for Windows, Mac, and Linux versus Apple’s “Mac-Only” requirement).
- Provide a kick-ass platform that encourages hardware innovation rather than limits it
- Make it easy for advertisers to target Android users through in-app advertising
And it’s working. Verizon’s Droid campaign was a HUGE boon for the Android platform, and brought what was a relatively unknown mobile OS in the days of the G1 and MyTouch 3G, to a wider audience.
Apple now finds itself in the Microsoft position: the people key to its success (developers and hardware manufacturers) are becoming increasingly turned-off by its choke-hold on the industry, and it now needs to play catch-up with the young, hip competitor it finds in Google.
And then there’s Microsoft. Let’s not forget them. Ok, well their new mobile OS isn’t due until “Holiday 2010″, so I guess we can forget them. By that time everyone in the market for a new superphone will probably have bought the iPhone 4G, Nexus One, HTC EVO 4G, Droid, HTC Desire, or any of a number of other supremely awesome phones due out this summer. But if they manage to hit a home run with Windows Phone 7, you can bet that Ballmer and the boys in Redmond are itching and salivating for a piece of the mobile advertising game as well. Let’s not forget their $6.8Bn acquisition of Double-Click competitor, aQuantive back in October 2008.
EVERYONE WANTS A PIECE OF THE PIE. And that’s great for the consumer, because the increased competition means an increase in choice, and (theoretically) a decrease in prices.
This is especially great for users of AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint who will have the luxury of greater variety of choice in mobile handsets, and more mobile power through greater innovation in both apps and OS software. Hopefully T-Mobile will continue to get some lovin’ too.
Fortunately for AT&T Nexus One users, the talented developers at xda-developers.com have been hard at work and have already built ROMs that are fully compatible and tested with the new set of Nexus One hardware that is AT&T compatible. Yes, you can enjoy your Cyanogen or MoDaCo ROMs, your Enomther’s, or even your KingXKlick ROMs and ports, and still get 3G coverage on one of the nations largest networks.
AT&T should be scare of the Nexus One, because it ushers in a new era of smart phones and consumer choice. Now if only you could keep from dropping 1 in every 3 calls on AT&T’s network. But…that’s a topic for another day.