Feeds

Google tries to quietly trample on Apple's toes

The Mountain View way lacks Apple's bullishness

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Comment This afternoon Google will finally announce its mobile offering. But while Google may make a better job of trumpeting its entry into the branded phone market, the Nexus One will never be as successful as the iPhone.

Three years ago, your correspondent wrote that the iPhone, which didn’t even have a name at the time, would fail, and that article has generated a steady stream of abuse ever since.

That conclusion was based on the idea that Apple would get two things wrong: It would piss off operators by diverting their revenue streams, and refuse to accept the operator shilling in the form of a handset subsidy. Google will get both of these points right - though even that won't be enough to make the Nexus One an iPhone competitor.

Back in 2006, Apple's lack of experience with operators proved its advantage: Steve Jobs pushed far harder than anyone else would have dared and the operators proved far more flexible than expected. They showed themselves willing to hand over revenue, advertising dollars and (ultimately) customers in exchange for a little Cupertino cool.

Later even Apple had to accept handset subsidies, along with the operator control that came with them - thus we get an MMS client, and careful control of VoIP applications.

Google has experience working with operators - it's been more than a year since T-Mobile launched the G1 - so the search giant has had plenty of time to work out what operators want from a handset, and thus what they'll subsidise.

And Google's business model isn't a threat to the operators, unlike Apple's, so in theory the Nexus One should be sure-fire winner with operators. That explains T-Mobile's rumoured $350 subsidy on the $530 price of the Nexus One, which pushes headline price below the $199 Apple is asking for a (subsidised) iPhone 3GS.

Price is important, but marketing is even more so, and (quite remarkably) Apple managed to get the operators to pay for much of their advertising. The exclusive deals Apple signed with operators committed them to extensive advertising spends, and it's hard to imagine that Google will have struck anything similar. But no-one knows more about advertising than Google, with Google also being ideally placed to ensure that there's no confusion when someone is searching the internet for the latest Android handset.

Google's phone, of course, won't be exclusive. That wouldn't be the Google way, just as applications can be bought through the Android Marketplace but can also be bought elsewhere. That's very nice for geeks who care about such things, but for the majority it makes it more complicated, and today's mobile-phone buyer cares more about simplicity than freedom.

So the Nexus One will be a moderate success, bringing in a little revenue for Google and serving as a reference platform for Android developers who will flock to get one spurred on by effective on-line advertising. But the general public will continue to buy the iPhone until Google comes up with some sort of killer feature to take away Apple's crown.

By the way, if you're reading this in three years' time, please don't feel the need to e-mail me and tell me how wrong I was. I'm probably aware of it by now. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?