The second generation of the Google Phone, better known as the Nexus S, officially went on sale today in Best Buy stores across the United States. Is its presence in a major retail chain enough to avoid the sad fate of its predecessor, the Nexus One?
Last week, Google officially announced the Nexus S, a “pure” Google phone running Android 2.3, a.k.a. Gingerbread. In addition to a 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor, 16GB of flash memory and front- and rear-facing cameras, it also boasts a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen and design based on the Samsung Galaxy S.
Today, Google officially launched the device and reiterated its price and availability. Starting now, the Android phone will be sold in Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores online and in physical, U.S.-based stores. You can acquire one with a two-year T-Mobile service plan for $199 or buy one without contract for $529.99.
The Evolutionary Steps of the Nexus
The Nexus One was just as much a response to the power of the wireless carriers as it was a response to Apple’s iPhone. The phone was only available through an online store operated by Google rather than through retail stores.
Google has since realized that people like to hold their phones in their hands before buying them. Apple’s popular retail stores have been instrumental to the success of the iPhone, so Google has turned to Best Buy for distribution of the Nexus S
Still, the device is held back by its availability on T-Mobile only. AT&T and Verizon have larger networks and greater reach. And with the vast proliferation of high-end Android devices such as the HTC Evo and the Galaxy S, the Nexus S isn’t necessarily the must-have Android phone on the market.
Perhaps success for Google isn’t measured by pure sales but by the influence of its device on the market. The device will serve as a “clean” testing and development device for thousands of app programmers. It also sets a high bar for the quality of an Android device, thanks to its fast processor and the use of Gingerbread.
It’s not certain what Google is trying to accomplish with the Nexus S and future Nexus devices, but we’re certain it will fare better than its predecessor. While it will likely never reach the proliferation of the iPhone, it may prove to be a powerful weapon in Google’s war with Apple.
We’ve now had a chance to play with the platform on our laptops, as well as on our iPhones, Android () phones and iPads. So far, we like the experience.
Those of you who already read e-books on the various mobile and (in some cases) desktop apps offered by Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) and Kobo will notice little difference between those apps and Google’s (). The apps for iPhone, Android and iPad most closely resemble the Kindle app, with list and grid library displays, the ability to adjust font sizes and types, read in “night” mode (i.e. with a black background — to conserve battery life) and swipe pages (3D page swiping a la iBooks is also available for iPhone and iPad via settings).
There are two big differences between Google’s apps and all of the others. One is that it offers a web version of its application, making it accessible to anyone with a desktop browser and on a relatively wide range of mobile devices (user experiences may vary). The second is that it lists page numbers and allows readers to quickly switch to see the actual scanned (rather than flowing text) page so that they can cite the printed edition rather than the electronic edition, if they so prefer.
In other words, it’s the first e-reading platform that is truly useful for students and, I expect, will gain major traction at U.S. universities. Universities have resisted adopting the Kindle and other e-reading platforms in large part because they simply weren’t accessible to students without the proper hardware. That is no longer an issue.