Press and analysts who convened at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters for the Nexus One launch event Jan. 5 got a special treat after the show proceedings wrapped: a free, unlocked Nexus One GSM smartphone.
The Nexus One is an HTC-made smartphone fitted with Android 2.1 operating system, and loads of snazzy software features, such as the ability to enter text into e-mail, Facebook and other fields just by speaking.
The rest of the world cannot go to a store and but the Nexus One. Consumers must buy the phone from Google's Web store here unlocked for $529, or pay $179 with a two-year service contract from T-Mobile.
This smartphone-as-a-service (call it the new SAAS) strategy is something of a new SAAS model for Google, though it follows models from Dell and Amazon.com.
eWEEK caught up via phone with Gartner's Ken Dulaney and Forrester Research's Charles Golvin, two leading industry analysts who attended the event and left with free Nexus One devices.
Just hours after the event, Dulaney praised the device:
""It's an excellent device. I think it will compare favorably from a hardware standpoint with the iPhone. It's got a tremendous screen, a good form factor. Maybe about the only downside I would see is the trackball. The reason RIM went away from it is that it tends to collect dust and get a bit sticky. But that's not a big deal. The screen is big and beautiful. The camera is great. The performance is great, there's a lot of good apps in there.""
So, how does it stack up against the Motorola Droid, the device with which Engadget compared the Nexus One. Dulaney added:
""I would say that if you have a Droid and a Nexus One next to each other at a Verizon store, the Nexus One gets the bulk of the business. Motorola went with the keyboard and the keyboard typically appeals to the lower end consumer who spends a lot of time in text because when you go from phone mode to text mode you're always closing the keyboard, switching it back into portrait mode. There's a lot of mechanics there that don't make sense if you're balanced between voice and text.""
However, Dulaney said the Droid will be fine because it could be six months before the Nexus One shows up on Verizon's network, giving the Droid the traditional kicker that any phone has to sell.
He also said Verizon desperately needs the Nexus One because they need an Apple iPhone lookalike to keep subscribers from going to AT&T for the hallowed iPhone experience.