The Nexus One is coming – But what does it all mean?

The Nexus One is coming   But what does it all mean? Gizmodo have unearthed yet more details on the availability of the Google Phone / Nexus One. Engadget also have their spin on it with this PDF showing the price as $429 without a service plan or $179 with. The document appears to have come from one of those hidden URLs and slightly contradicts the details that gizmodo and others have spotted – the handset will be selling for $530 unlocked and $180 with a T-Mobile talk plan.

So, we know that Google will be calling it the “Nexus One” and it’s pretty definite that it’ll be launched on January 5th (just look at the top of that invite, it’s exactly the same as the boot animation we saw earlier). What we’re a little confused over is the long-term game plan. The Google Android OS is already available on a range of handsets from various manufacturers and it’s doing very well indeed. There’s stacks of apps in the Android Market (mostly free) and the handsets are being well received. Android have already hit the “fragmentation barrier” that Windows Mobile hit – there’s lots of handsets, lots of network variants and already it’s becoming a problem to update them all. Some customers have Android 1.5, others have 1.6, others version 2.x – some apps work on some phones, some don’t. It could become a problem, but currently customers are happy with the phones and the experience – as are the manufacturers, with Motorola regaining their brand and customer base thanks to handsets like the Droid.

The Nexus One is a solution in part to the fragmentation problems – one handset and presumably no network “tweaks”. The experience is presumably controlled from the top down by Google alone (ala iPhone) and every customer gets the same deal. What, though, happens to the other Android handsets? The experience will no doubt be different to that of the Nexus One and it’s a return to the bad old days for HTC. Think about it – HTC have spent years building their name up and becoming recognised around the world. Suddenly it’s a step back. HTC are building a phone and, whilst their name will be on it somewhere, everyone will see this as the “Nexus One Google Phone”.

So is this a two-pronged attack on the market from Google? We stated in our fragmentation article that OS makers usually had to make a decision – one OS on many handsets or one OS on one handset. Is Google planning to do both?