Google Nexus One versus iPhone: The hype battle

There appears to be only two companies in the world today that can get the geeks excited about new product launches, Apple and Google. However, I am finding it hard to get excited about the launch of Google’s Nexus One smartphone.

Maybe it is because we won’t be able to buy one in SA, maybe it’s because the one thing that the press in the states are getting excited about (that you can buy it unlocked) is a non-issue in SA, but mostly I think it is because Google didn’t show us anything we haven’t seen before.

Maybe you remember a couple of years ago when rumours started flying about the imminent introduction of a Google phone. Tech commentators were almost frothing at the mouth at the prospect of Google taking on Apple and making the smartphone race, which Apple had started with the launch of the iPhone, into something worth writing about.

Instead of giving the press and the public the handset they were all looking for, Google instead launched the Android operating system. There were some vague promises of awesomeness to come, but in reality all we got was a cute logo and yet another Google beta test.

It took almost a year for the first handset to come out, the G1 (or the HTC Dream if you live outside the US), another year for the first decent Android handset to hit the market (the HTC Hero) and now we have the Nexus One, Google’s first self-branded smartphone.

While Google has finally decided to bite the bullet and put its name on a phone we have to remember that the Nexus One is not the iPhone for one big reason.

This is still a phone with an operating system built by one company and hardware built by another. If you were thinking that Google went out and hired an army of hardware engineers to create the Nexus from the ground up and then handed off the design to HTC to build then you are sorely mistaken. Most likely they sat down with the boffins at HTC and together fleshed out the hardware specifications of the phone. The iPhone, on the other hand, is Apple’s work from the ground up.

What Google have done is use HTC to beta test Android on a number of customers, all of whom have been happy to pay for the privilege. Now that the beta test is over Google have shoved aside their loyal partner and taken some of the glory for itself.

And the press go wild.

The laughable part of this is that we have known, since before the December break, that Google were going to launch a phone, what it was going to be called, what it looked like, how much it was going to cost, what functionality it was going to have and pretty much everything else about it.

From a news perspective everything about the Nexus One’s launch has been a non-event.

And it isn’t like there isn’t any other news for the press to report. The Nexus One was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where we have more product announcements per second than anywhere else on earth.

Instead of the “OMG, this is finally the iPhone killer” reactions that Google’s adoring fans seems to be having, we should probably have been saying: “OK, Google finally fixed the Android phone.”

Pretty much what the reaction was when the iPhone 3GS was released.

Instead of the mind-blowing awesomeness that seems to accompany every Apple product launch I am left with a numb, so-what. Maybe if Google hadn’t handed out the phone to all their employees before announcing it to the public I would be able to muster up a little more excitement.

This is not to say that the Nexus One is not a good phone, it is probably one of the two best phones in the world today (the iPhone being the other one), but from a news perspective it is a non-event thanks to Google scooping themselves.

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Google Nexus One versus iPhone: The hype battle