October 21, 2014

The Nexus One Isn't a Game Changer, But the First Step Towards a Change in the Game`

A few months back I wrote an article that pointed out how odd it was that we continue to refer to our handsets as phones.  I likened it to a car being called a music player.  With 99% of all cars on the road sporting a radio why don’t we refer to our new ride as a shiny new music repository?  Silly, right?  But it makes just as much sense to call your Droid, Nexus One, Cliq, G1, etc. a phone when it is so much more.

The battle here is a “chicken and the egg” one in that it is all about what came first.  The car came first so no matter what we end up putting in the car it will always be a car.  Same with our phones.  Everything started with the cellular phone so no matter what more we cram into the devices they will always be phones.  With cars it makes sense, with our handsets it does not.

Google showed it understands this evolution of the phone when they dubbed the Nexus One a “super phone”.  I am not a fan of the moniker at all (whats to stop Apple from dubbing their next piece of hardware a “super-duper-phone” for example; it’s silly) but I appreciate the step away from referring to these devices as phones.  The truth is that the Nexus One is no more super than the Droid or even the G1, but what it does do is up the ante and gets us closer to the vision of what these devices need to be.

In the previously mentioned article on this subject I wrote that what we today call phones are in fact information hubs.  We keep our contacts, calendars, pictures, and so much more in there.  They are, for most, our central source for information.  Of course they also serve as a GPS system, alarm, entertainment system, web browser and more.  “Phones” have been doing all of that and more for some time ,so what is so “super” about the Nexus One?  It’s not what it does at all but how it does it.

The next step in the evolution of handsets is speed.

As a society we were all pretty chill initially.  The speed limit was lower, we waited for our food to cook and we were OK kicking rocks or playing ding-dong ditch ‘em as kids.  Then, fast-food places started to pop up.  We began to get upset when we waited a full, gasp, 2 minutes for our fries.  Microwaves invaded our homes depriving us of the fun watching the aluminum foil rising in our jiffy pop popcorn.  Give a kid a rock today and tell him to play and you better duck cause that kid is throwing it back at you.

We demand speed and “phones” have rarely delivered.

Sure apps like Google Maps, Places Directory, Sherpa and more are great, but are they fast?  No.  My wife has regularly pointed out that in the time it takes me to launch the app, type in my query and wait for relevant results she could have rolled down the window and received the same information from at least two to three people.

This is where the Nexus One excites me.  I envision a time where my wife and I are in some far off city watching one of our kids play soccer and the caffeine addiction kicks in.  Before she can roll down the window I will have pushed a button on my Nexus One and said, “Find the nearest Starbucks,” and within seconds the screen lights up with locations.  It will offer me phone numbers, directions and even reviews so we go to just the right spot.

No launching an app, no typing in a request and most importantly no waiting for results.  Husbands everywhere rejoice!

Having not had the privilege of handling the Nexus One as of this posting I am not sure if it can deliver on this promise, but I feel certain it is the first step in that direction.  No, the Nexus One isn’t “super” and in my opinion it’s not even a phone, but it does represent a change in the mobile game.  Before the N1 the focus was on more and more information from our tiny handsets.  With the N1, Google shifted the focus to speed.

Let’s see if everyone else can keep up.  Either way, we consumers are the winners!