News Analysis: Engadget reported something Dec. 23 that frankly boggles the mind. Citing a tipster, the site claims Google's Nexus One smartphone will be available by invitation only.
EWEEK has already explored the idea that Google could let consumers purchase the Nexus One and pick their carrier over the Web, which many agreed is an attractive value proposition.
If Google plans to offer the device by invite-only at any point its begs the question: why? Why seed the Android 2.1-based Apple iPhone challenger to Google employees, some of whom gave gadget geeks opportunities to play with the phone, and then only selectively offer it?
Why whet appetites and not satisfy them? That is not the way a company trying to offer a successful Android phone should offer a market challenger. Engadget added:
"Our tipster doesn't have information on how those invites are going to be determined, other than the fact that it's Google doing the inviting -- if we had to guess, current registered developers are a strong possibility -- but the good news, we suppose, is that T-Mobile will apparently sell the phone directly at some to-be-determined point in the future."
Google declined to validate this point in an e-mail to eWEEK, but there is no good news there. It's been established that T-Mobile would offer the Nexus One for a couple weeks now.
The only logical explanation for why Google would take such an unusual approach to bringing the Nexus One to market would be that the device is in fact being sold unlocked and unsubsidized for its full $500 to $600. Perhaps Google wants to see how many people bite early in 2010 after the holiday season, but this is a risky gamble; offering a phone based on an open platform in an exclusive fashion is closed-minded.
It's certainly not wise at a time when customers continue to weigh Android devices such as the Motorola Droid versus the iPhone. The market has not yet matured to the point where most consumers are strictly looking for the next Android or iPhone without mulling a device from the other company. In other words, the iPhone may be leading in marketshare and mindshare, but it has not won the smartphone war.