Yesterday Google revealed the new version of the Android platform called Gingerbread and as we have become accustomed to see a new device under the Nexus brand. This is not the Nexus 2 – as this was actually brought to market under the LG brand and called Optimus 1. This is the Nexus S – maybe a link to the Samsung Galaxy S and the only sign that this device is actually made by Samsung as no brand name seem to appear on the actual device.
The feature set includes: a 4 inch 800 x480 resolution super-AMOLED “contour” display, meaning that it’s slightly curved so that it fits around your face more comfortably when making calls; a 5 megapixel camera, and a front-facing camera for video chatting; a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 16GB of memory, assisted GPS, bluetooth, wi-fi and 3G.
The more interesting features are the ones that the actual OS brings and that we assume will be made available to other members of the Handset Alliance in due course. According to Andy Rubin, Gingerbread is the fastest version of Android yet, and it delivers a number of improvements, such as user interface refinements, NFC support, a new keyboard and text selection tool, Internet (VoIP/SIP) calling, improved copy/paste functionality and gyroscope sensor support.
In the UK, the Nexus S will be out on December 20th, at Carphone Warehouse. Users will be able to choose between a £550 sim-free device or contracts starting at £35 per month with the handset coming for free – although I have not yet seen which operator will offer it.
Not having had the device in my hand I am not able to judge any of the features other than to say that on paper this looks like a strong OS update and will certainly help Android’s momentum for the Holiday Season and into 2011.
The interesting point to me is that many industry commentators have focused on the features and the OS and arrived at the conclusion that the limited success of the Nexus One was linked to hardware and software limitations and that the improvements in the new device will make it a success. The reality is that when the Nexus One reached the market in early 2010 it was the best Android phone available as it is the case for Nexus S. What failed the Nexus One was Google’s go to market strategy. And Google appears to have learnt from its mistakes and opened up its channel to Carphone Warehouse in the UK and BestBuy in the US. This will make a significant difference in the exposure that the Nexus S will have for consumers.
For Samsung, the Nexus S means more from a marketing perspective than necessarily a sales point of view. Being chosen as the alternative to HTC for the second Nexus device adds to being the first vendor selling the first Android based media tablet – the Galaxy Tab – and cements Samsung’s leadership in Android market share.
I cannot help but wonder though, if it is a good thing for the second largest phone vendor to give up its brand on the front of the device. Is this a mean to an end for Samsung and in the wholeness of things it does not matter if it means they will be the first vendor out with their on Gingerbread product – possibly a Galaxy S update? Or is this the first step towards turning into a Google ODM?
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