Google took an interesting step this week when it announced on its Nexus One blog that customers who want to use the Verizon network might be more interested in the HTC Droid Incredible instead of its own Nexus One. I've never hidden my disdain for the Google Nexus One strategy (as I wrote in Google's Boneheaded Retail Strategy ). I could never understand why Google, which worked so hard to build up its partner eco-system would then undermine its partners by producing its own branded phone. Further, I couldn't fathom why Google would ever want to get into the retail phone business when their underlying corporate strategy is far better served by acting as a catalyst using Android to run Google services and sell Google ads.
Perhaps this week's announcement is actually a sign that maybe I was right, and Google could be pulling back from that retail strategy and letting its partners take the lead again.
This Phone Really Looks Incredible
I took a look the Droid Incredible on YouTube and it really does look like a loaded phone. It includes an 8 Mega-pixel camera with a flash (now that's something) and it has a slot inside the phone for 16GB MicroSD card. The bad news is you have to pop the cover to get at the SD card slot, but that's a minor annoyance when you look at the specs on this baby including 1 Ghz processor, high resolution 3.7 inch screen and 8 GB of onboard memory.
Watch the YouTube video and drool. Even those of us who are in love with our iPhones are going to be lusting after this phone.
But What About Nexus One
Google isn't abandoning Nexus One just yet, but the announcement shows that it's featuring its partner's phone instead of its own. That it is willing to take a back seat shows that the partners are pulling ahead in terms of what they are offering. It's not really in Google's business interests to turn up the heat and try to compete on a feature for feature basis. Let HTC sell as many phones as it can and Google still wins because that phone runs Google services and sells Google ads, and that my friends is the name of the game for Google. Why should they care if they have a phone or if they compete with Apple or Microsoft for brand recognition. If Google partners sell Android phones, Google wins, plain and simple. (Of course, it's worth noting because one of you will point it out to me anyway, that HTC developed the Nexus One for Google.)
If I had Eric Schmidt's ear (which I don't of course), I would sit him down, buy him a large skinny latte and ask him, "Dude, what are you doing selling a branded phone? Do yourself a favor and save yourself and your organization a lot of heartache and just let your partners do the heavy lifting for you." Google may take its time shutting down the Nexus One product, but chances are at some point, the announcement will come and Google will go back to doing what it does best: making tons of money selling ads.
Photo courtesy of Verizon Wireless.