Googleon Tuesday sent out invitations for a January 5 "Android pressgathering" at their Mountain View, Calif. campus. Most everyone expectsthe event will be the official unveiling of the Nexus One mobile phone, although Google didn't say as much in the invitation.
The final piece of the Nexus One puzzle (supposedly) fell into place when Gizmodo and Engadget posted leaked documents purporting to show the Nexus One's price: $529.99 "unlocked" or $179.99 with a two-year contract and a very specific, limited service plan.
I put "unlocked" in quotes because according to everything we'veseen so far, the Nexus One only works properly on T-Mobile's networkhere in the U.S. Even though you can use it on AT&T's system, itwill be restricted to 2G, which with a powerful smartphones like the Nexus One would be a little like watching famed runner Oscar Pistorius without his carbon-fiber legs.
If that is indeed the pricing, the Google narrative changes herefrom "are they going to disrupt the wireless industry?" to "do theywant to sell any of these at all?" For an unlocked, high-endsmartphone, $529.99 is pretty standard. Without a contract, the NokiaE72 is around $400, the important Motorola Droid is $559.99, and the iPhone 3GS is $599.99. None of them are big sellers at those prices.
Gizmodo says that to get a $179.99 Nexus One you'll need to sign upfor a single, specific T-Mobile plan (500 minutes, unlimited data),which makes absolutely zero sense unless Google doesn't actually wantto sell any phones.
I hope that this phone will sell with the full T-Mobile range ofplans, just like any other T-Mobile smartphone. So given that this isjust like any other T-Mobile smartphone, why is Google making so muchof a fuss over it?
I don't have a good guess, and there's no evidence to support any conclusions here. But here's a bad guess: Google is testing the waters,laying the groundwork, and deciding whether or not they want to get in to the hardware business more disruptively. Note that I'm not saying they have already decided to do so. Rather, this is a trial balloon for the power of their brand and their ability to manipulate ODMs and carriers. Can they get press to show up at a thunderously inconveniently timed announcement? What sorts of demands are carries easily willing to acceed to - and which take more work? They're learning by doing, and the information gathered by this rather modest effort will inform their future attempts.
On the other hand, they could have some sort of blockbuster surprisenext week. We just don't know, but we'll be covering the event when ithappens, from 1-4pm.