Google Nexus Two Rounds Out the Android Smartphone Two Redux

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-10-29

Google Nexus Two Rounds Out the Android Smartphone Two Redux

Today's round of breathless Android phone excitement comes from rumors that Samsung and Google will announce the Google Nexus Two Android phone on Nov. 8. The rumors are by no means substantiated, although they come from sources, Gizmodo as well as eWEEK's Clint Boulton, that have been reliable in the past.  

But right now there's considerable disagreement as to whether the Nov. 8 announcement will be for the Nexus Two or for some other phone. The only thing we know for certain is that it's not for the Verizon Wireless version of the iPhone 4. 

The next questions are all fairly obvious. Why a Nexus Two? Why is it from Samsung, which already has a line of highly successful Galaxy S phones? And what's with all these phones named something-Two, anyway? 

First, the Two thing. Tech companies, especially consumer tech companies, like to tack a Two on a product when the original was very successful or otherwise groundbreaking. It makes people remember how cool the previous product was and helps them associate that coolness with the new product. In some cases, such as Verizon Wireless and the Droid 2, it's a pretty good comparison.  

Verizon Wireless has been selling a line of Droids after the success of the initial product, resulting in the Droid Incredible, the Droid X and the Droid 2. Of the three, the Droid 2 was the most obvious descendent of the original. Calling it the Droid 2 made sense. 

T-Mobile, meanwhile, has just launched the G2, which is clearly intended to be the next step from the highly successful G1 phone. The G1 was the first Android phone on the market. The G2 resembles its predecessor in many ways, but of course is updated with a much newer version of Android and with support for T-Mobile's very fast HSPA+ network. Again, the G2 is a very capable phone that's obviously a descendent of the original, but thoroughly updated. 

But what about the Nexus Two? The original was built by HTC and was sold through Google's Website. It was an unlocked phone that you could get with T-Mobile service, or without any service, and just insert your own SIM card. The idea behind the Nexus was to provide a pure Android platform with a lot of features. The device was aimed at developers. Part of the deal was that Google would ensure that the Nexus was kept up to date, giving developers assurance that they were developing on the latest available platform.  

Developers Can Make Good Use of Unlocked Nexus Two


This brings us back to the Nexus Two rumors. The first Nexus phone wasn't a commercial success, although it was a very good phone. The reason for the lack of commercial success is that Google's Web sales model gave the device little exposure; the phone wasn't available from carriers including T-Mobile despite the fact that the carrier was offering a discount. You couldn't pick it up and try it out, which many phone users find to be a critical part of evaluating a purchase. 

Except for developers and other committed Android enthusiasts, there seems to be little reason to name the new device the Nexus Two, since relatively few people remember the original Nexus One. But maybe it isn't the Nexus Two. Perhaps as some reports tell us, it's really the Nexus S. Considering the fact that this phone borrows heavily from Samsung's well regarded Galaxy S, this could make a little more sense. The reports are that the Nexus is likely a Galaxy S with a few extra features, like a front facing camera and a cool curved shape. 

What's probably more important is that the new Nexus Two (assuming that's the real name) will come with Android 2.3. Other rumors indicate that this would be a pure Android platform with no carrier add-ons and no extensions. In other words, it would be the next real developer's phone. This is where the rumors really make sense. As nice as the other model 2 phones are, they are loaded with carrier-specific features. The Nexus One is still a nice phone and it sells well in the used market, but it's getting long of tooth. 

What's really needed now is a phone designed to be used by Android developers. It needs to be unlocked so that developers can use whatever carrier is serving their location and of course it needs to be a GSM phone like the original because about 75 percent of the world uses GSM phones. But it also needs to be available in a CDMA version, something that was promised for the Nexus, but was never delivered. If that's what Google and Samsung are planning to deliver on Nov. 8, it'll be very popular, as long as it really does present itself as a real Android developer's phone and not just a gussied-up version of the Galaxy S.

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