So Google’s second attempt at a handset, the Nexus S, goes on sale in Best Buy tomorrow in the States. You’re probably thinking, “so what?”. This time last year there were rumblings that a Google branded handset was imminent and shortly after the Nexus One which was manufactured by HTC, was released to favourable reviews.
The handset however, did not sell in the quantities Google would have hoped for as they tried to break the traditional sales model for mobiles by offering it contract-free, direct from Google. They faced two problems:
1. Consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are used to some kind of subsidy on their handset
2. Google realised they would have to offer some kind of after-sales support, which they weren’t really ready for
They swiftly withdrew the phone from direct sales, and their “iPhone” challenger died a bit of a death. In the interests of transparency it is worth saying I have a Nexus One (given to me by Google for free at a seminar) and I love mine and think it’s great.
So the big G is having a second bite of the cherry with the Nexus S, which this time around is being made by Samsung. Should you be excited? Well, probably not about the actually hardware. Spec-wise, it is nearly identical to the Galaxy S apart from the curved screen and NFC (near-field communication) chip on board. NFC is a new technology which will allow mobile devices to interact with other devices – the end goal being able to pay for things with your phone as it could replace your bank cards and your Oyster card. Although it’s something to shout about, I can’t see NFC making a huge impact straight away although I am sure it will appear in the next iPhone too.
What is more interesting is that the Nexus S brings with it the latest version of Android, version 2.3 or Gingerbread as its been known while in development. This latest release makes further refinements to the look and feel whilst added a few new features around copy & paste, and voice over IP (VOIP) calls. All in all, not the revolution we were hoping for. It probably does bring Android closer to iOS 4.2, but I think we’re going to have to wait for Android 3 before Google’s mobile OS will really be giving Apple’s a run for its money.