EL SEGUNDO, USA: Google’s new Nexus One smart phone serves as a showcase for the latest version of the Android operating system and will allow the company to gather critical user data for developing new software, according to iSuppli Corp.
“With a plethora of smart phones based on the Android operating system already on the market, questions have arisen as to why Google would begin selling its own phone equipped with the operating system,” said Tina Teng, iSuppli senior analyst for wireless communications. “iSuppli believes the Nexus One allows Google to demonstrate all the capabilities of its operating system more effectively than other phones that employ customized versions of Android. The Nexus One also gives Google direct access to end customers, yielding key information on how users interact with applications and utilize data.”
Such information will be critical as Android-based phones strive to gain market share in the burgeoning smart phone market. iSuppli predicts global smart phone shipments will rise considerably, more than doubling from 181 million in 2009 to 439 million in 2013, as presented in the figure.Source: iSuppli, Jan. 2010, USA
With Google having directed the entire design of the Nexus One, including the hardware, applications and operating system, the phone exemplifies all the capabilities of version 2.1 of Android. In contrast, other Android-based phones, such as Motorola’s Droid, have personalized the operating system to suit their own hardware designs and services.
“The Nexus One will help Google popularize Android by showing what the operating system can really do,” Teng said.
Android 2.1 adds a multitude of new features to the operating system, including voice text input and control; a phone book that aggregates contacts from multiple sources, including Facebook; e-mail with multiple Gmail accounts, a universal inbox and Microsoft Exchange support and the Android market, an online app store with more than 18,000 applications.
Beyond serving as a technology demonstrator for Android, the Nexus One gives Google direct access to consumers’ use patterns.
“Wireless carriers have gathered a great deal of useful information about smart-phone usage in recent years,” Teng said. “However, all this information relates to data traffic generated during online activities, and doesn’t cover offline actions, such as how users interact with applications and how customers make use of information derived from applications. Such information is invaluable for application and user interface developers as they try to create next-generation software and services.”
Teng said Google can embed an applet into the Nexus One that can send reports on user behaviors back to a company database for analysis.
“Android fanatics provide the best forum for a group study on usage patterns, making the Nexus One a potential information goldmine,” Teng said.
iSuppli believes the Nexus One is a compelling device in terms of functions and capabilities. However, the product will still face significant competitive challenges.
“Google will have to bundle innovative software with the Nexus One to combat its strongest competitor: Apple’s iPhone,” Teng said.