Did Google Shoot itself in the Foot with Nexus One?

Microsoft sure thinks so.  In a quote from Microsoft’s Robbie Bach taken from Bloomberg, it seems the software giant thinks that Google may have bitten off more than it can chew.

The Bach Quote from Bloomberg:

“Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult,” he said in an interview yesterday from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “Google’s announcement sends a signal where they’re going to place their commitment. That will create some opportunities for us and we’ll pursue them.”

What Bach is talking about is the fact that Google is not pushing the Nexus One in the traditional way, either selling it themselves, or by creating partnerships with carriers with an exclusive deal.  As we know now, Google is doing it both ways.  So the question is, has Google shot itself in the foot by taking this route?

Of course this remains to be seen, but it is a valid point that Bach makes.  The appeal of Android to carriers has been the fact that it is a free product, and available to any handset maker that wants to use it for their smartphone production.  With the current explosion of Android handsets, the inclusion of Android is a draw for the consumer to at least look at any handset that is advertised as having Google’s platform as it’s core OS.

Another quote from Bloomberg talks about the job Google has ahead of them:

“No one has ever succeeded in selling their own device while trying to license to partners simultaneously,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Los Angeles-based research firm Interpret LLC. “As much as Google can say it’s not a Google phone, the phone says Google on it. They’re going to have to convince their licensees they’re not in competition with them.”

With Google’s release of the N1, it is possible that carriers and handset producers may now view that Google instead of being a welcome partner, may now be a direct competitor.  There is a very real possibility that Google will be seen to now have a stranglehold on the very people that helped them to spread Android’s influence to one of the direct competitors in the smartphone industry.  Say for example Google starts to release Nexus One exclusive updates to the Android OS that gives “special” functionality to Google’s own handset and not to other Android devices?  With the open source development of different Android branches, I am not sure if this is something that would become a possibility, but it certainly is something to think about.

It needs to be mentioned of course that with the release of the N1, Google has now upped the ante with Microsoft in their ongoing battle.  Google and Microsoft have been head to head in almost everything, including word processing, search and mobile OS platforms.  Now Google has beaten Microsoft to the punch of having a branded handset.

I for one do not think that Google is going to have much trouble with the way they are deciding to go with releasing the N1.  I cannot imagine that handset makers did not see something like this coming, certainly it had to be a possibility that they had foreseen.

Google has long been a trailblazer in technology.  Not inly in technology, but how we use technology.  I think Google is blazing a new path with how the N1 is being sold, and opening future avenues of sales and revenue for the search giant.

It will be interesting to see a year down the line how everything has fallen out.  I do not think the future includes the Android platform failing in the marketplace.

  • SparkLingCYaNide

    I applaud them so much for doing what they're doing. I love their company and all their products. I am definitely Camp Google for life.

  • Well, HTC is making the Nexus One. Rumor is that Motorola will have the honor of making the second one… I don't think Motorola and HTC see Google as a competitor, more like a partner.
    Google wants just one thing, get as much people as possible to use Android!

    Lots of people are comparing Android and Apple iphone. Yes, it will take time for Google to beat Apple, they probably will never be able to but they won't have any problem taking market shares from Nokia/Symbian and Microsoft. And they (Nokia and Microsoft) know it. Nokia just release a free navigation app to prove it..!

    • Yeah

      Agree, the hardware makers have known about / included in googles plans going back to at least 2005 before there was even a iPhone.

  • While I personally don't think that Google has shot itself in the foot, it might be at least stepping on some toes. But with both handset makers being able to 'toy' with the Android OS their way, and Google still having to submit to the Carriers having a 'calling plan' for the N1, I really don't see them over stepping their bounds. What would be bad is if Google only updates 'their personal' phones. Which may not really peeve the carriers, but more so the customers and loyals' of Android OS. Unless Google plans on becoming its own carrier, I don't feel anyone has much to worry about. But then again, if they do, I think they will lose out on any other carrier carrying an Android device.
    They really have the ball in their court, Android is ever growing popular, and every carrier is joining the droid army…. they are out to make a buck, and that is far more important to rake in millions and side with Google then to choose any other path at this current time.

  • jeff

    i think they are pushing a model more then a phone with the nexus one…its like "with google" on steroids ….the phone has htc branding and its no secret that its htc hardware …they have made it clear that pretty much any hardware partner could get in on the action so to speak

    i seriously doubt that they will be hoarding releases of android for just their phones ….but my only worry is that it might mean less "with google " phones on the other carriers…but i really don't think this hurts android in the slightest and the only business its really trying to change is the mobile operators in the US

  • Ulvhamne

    Selling your own handset at the same time as licensing it might be rare in the states, but in europe, its pretty common. So I dont really see the problem with google doing it in the states. Sure,t he carriers over there are pretty stuck up bastards (I deal with them in my line of buisness and I hate them) but the OS is still free to use for handset makers, and that is a lot cheaper than having to either make your own OS or buy the OS from someone. Plus, its really good. And the early adopters like HTC and Motorola all got a pretty nice boost from adapting it. 😉 So I doubt the handset makers will bother. They still get to make the hardware for googles own branded stuff either way. And whats yet another competitor in a buisness used to competition…
    Just MS trying out their old and tried FUD machinery again. 😉

  • The way I see it is that Google is just throwing in some marketing for HTC. Of course they make money on it as well, but HTC as well. If it were a bad deal for HTC they probably would not have done it.
    If google makes sure that it does not bring features to only their phones but releases them to all manufacturers I don't see any issue

  • Loke

    “No one has ever succeeded in selling their own device while trying to license to partners simultaneously,”

    What the hell is he talking about? What is says could, possibly, be at least on the plausible side if one were to ignore the rest of the entire world. Googles strategy has been working perfectly fine for at least the last 15 or so years in places like Europe.

  • Sunny

    Like anyone should pay attention to the great innovator that Microsoft is. Shut the f%^& up and go sit in your corner.

  • aglide

    I think the Nexus One (or the Nexus line of phones) will be unique in that they'll get the latest versions of Android pushed to them directly from Google way before the other carrier-branded phones do. So instead of waiting months and months while the carriers spin their wheels like idiots about updating the OS, Nexus owners will always have the latest version of Android that their hardware can handle.

    I can't say the carriers would deserve much pity if this happens.

  • CarsonSchmidt

    Is this dude serious? Who cares what M$ thinks. His company has screwed things up so many times (while simultaneously screwing customers for decades) and he has the gall to comment on what Google does. Like someone else already said shut the hell up and go back to whatever cave you crawled out of. At least Google is trying to help the customers by attempting to break the stranglehold that telecom carriers have on customers. What has Microsoft ever done to help the consumer out?

  • I love Google. I don't think that they perfect but then I don't believe in perfect. If anything – perfect's boring. I finally got to play with NO and it's just awesome. If I can get $150 on eBay for my current MyTouch and if they drop a $100 (which I think will happen within month or 2) I'm buying

  • I doubt performance is going to be any worse. It might just be better though 🙂

  • Chris

    What are you talking about? Apple does the same thing. You can buy it at AT&T (their partner), or you can buy it directly from Apple at the Apple Store. Right now AT&T is their only partner, but thats changing in the upcomming months, and you'll STILL be able to buy the phone from the Apple Store if you choose.

  • Sammy

    It's too bad the N1 is a bit craptacular. I owned the iPhone, and at best, the N1 is 75% as good. The turn by turn directions are better, but the app store doesn't have many of the iphone apps, no good games, and using the phone is clunky in 100 different ways (setting an alarm, no countdown timer, no multitouch for browser and maps, etc, etc, etc.) If you're not an existing T-Mobile customer, I have no idea why you would choose this over the iPhone.

    And if you run into any problems, best of luck. It's just reprehensible that the company that sells you the phone forces you off to T-Mobile or HTC if you have any trouble. Customer service (cough) only a fanboy could love.

  • Filip

    Well… my nexus one have both multitouch, countdown and I find it extremely easy to use. And I prefer it over the iPhone because it is customizable… and does syncing better… my friend who has an iphone with mobileMe has problems all the time with his syncing.. I don't…

  • I think glen is right. Apple would shut this things down if they get notice of it.

  • I think this is quite true. Google cannot put or even level with Microsoft with just that Nexus1. Even if Google has already a giant name, that will be useless if he will start a new strategy or will be changing its nature.

  • Pia

    Nexus one is not really a big deal with Google. After all, having an awful product will not still ruin the gigantic Google. But who knows, there are few who would love this.

  • isn’t it ?

  • go android..