Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling has his finger right on the pulse of the heady intersection of search, localization and mobility, so when he writes anything remotely related to those areas it’s worth a read.
That includes this Dec. 30 piece in which Sterling laments that, in the last three weeks, it seems as though everything one could want to know about the Google Nexus One smartphone has been revealed.
He wonders whether the world will yawn next week after the Android event where the Nexus One will more likely than not be unveiled and demonstrated. I respectfully disagree with Sterling and I believe Google leaked the Nexus One documents early to generate the kind of buzz we’ve been reading about everywhere since the middle of December.
What is the buzz?
We know Google employees have been testing the HTC-built device and that it runs Android 2.1 and is superfast, performing better than the Motorola Droid and even Apple’s iPhone.
We’ve seen it in action in videos. Google declined to give any sort of comment to me and anyone else who asked about this even though hundreds if not thousands of Googlers are already using these gadgets. Despite this, Google still won’t officially confirm the existence of the Nexus One, though by now it might as well try to deny that the sky is blue.
Nexus One specifications have been blessed by the Federal Communications Commission. Google will sell the device online for $530 unlocked and unsubsidized or $180 with a two-year T-Mobile contract. Still, Google declined to comment to me.
Google is hosting an Android press event Jan. 5 at its headquarters, where Andy Rubin and other executives (I’m guessing Sergey Brin and/or Larry Page and Eric Schmidt will also attend) will more likely than not formally unveil the Nexus One.
This seems to be a formality because we already know most of what there is to know, assuming what we know is not fallacious: features, go-to-market and other factoids. Sterling fairly notes:
“Had Google not given out the phone and the images and details not leaked so freely it might have been able to surprise on January 5 (unless there’s something else still up its sleeve). But the publicity is largely played out — although when the Nexus One is formally released there will be the customary Walt Mossberg, David Pogue and Edward Baig columns comparing the device to other Android handsets and, ultimately, the iPhone.“
I think we will see a ton of coverage Jan. 5 for a few reasons, the most obvious being that the Nexus One has already been dubbed an estimable iPhone challenger in performance and functionality.
But I also offer you this food for thought. Think about the Nexus One pre-buzz in the context of Chrome Operating System.
Much like the buzz leading up to the soft launch of Chrome OS and the resulting coverage explosion that ensued when Google released the code to open source, Google will see another fountain of Nexus One coverage Jan. 5.
My guess is the company will probably toss out a few new nuggets to feed the gadget-blogging hounds who have already scooped the heck out of this story (kudos to Engadget, Gizmodo).
Interestingly, we received no early buzz, not even a lick, when Google unveiled its real-time search strategy and other new search tools Dec. 7. No one knew what Google was going to unveil on that day, except for Google, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and any other partners it worked with on real-time search.
Why the discrepancy? Why does info about Chrome OS and Android devices leak out, but not search? This is by design. Google is far and away the dominant search engine. It doesn’t need to leak search innovations because it has that market sewn up.
Conversely, with new products such as Android and Chrome OS, Google is starting from ground zero, entering markets dominated by the iPhone and Microsoft Windows, respectively.
Google doesn’t do much marketing, so I believe the Nexus One leaks are intended to whet the public’s appetite, building buzz in the process. If what we think we know of the Nexus One is true, from specs to pricing, et al., the device has already had an unofficial launch, and has been a smashing success thanks to word-of-mouth from wowed Googlers and the guys at Engadget and Gizmodo. Genius!
Think about it: If Google leaks info, such as documentation or what have you, the benefits double. Google gets the benefit of the glut of early coverage and punditry, and then gets a whole new batch of coverage by doing a formal launch Jan. 5.
And why not? Android is going up against the iPhone, a device whose execution in every performance and marketing category has been exceptional, save for the draconian App Store decrees.
Leaking Nexus One product info is one way to gain some mind share even before the device hits the market in 2010.
Sowing such seeds early could help, especially at a time when most mobile phone experts have proclaimed the Motorola Droid a passable device but no credible iPhone challenger.
If this is in fact how Google is playing it, bravo, but they don’t tell me nada regarding the Nexus One. I look forward to hearing and seeing more about it Jan. 5.