Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 6, 2010 3:44 PM

The Google Phone Is Really About This...

A computer that is in every person's hand that connects them to information and everyone else in the world.

Too many people think that the launch of the Nexus One (the Google phone) yesterday was Google's competitive move against Apple's iPhone or BlackBerry. It wasn't. Just take a look through the major business and technology newspaper columns, websites and Blogs, and you'll see charts comparing the Nexus One to the iPhone and BlackBerry ad nauseam. There's a lot more to this announcement than meets eye (and it has a major effect on how we're going to be doing marketing and communications in the coming years). In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen (the co-founders of Microsoft) had a vision "of a computer on every desk and in every home." Yesterday's announcement of the Nexus One was another step in the evolution of that Microsoft desire as Google takes it a step further by trying to get a computer into every hand.

It's too expensive to get into everybody's hands.

Today it is. Tomorrow it probably won't be. Remember, this is still early days in the smartphone wars and at this point, Google knows that the global penetration of the iPhone is still minimal. There is a huge market and opportunity to get a very advanced smartphone into areas where the iPhone or BlackBerry aren't. So, while that will probably be the first marketing play for Nexus One, it is still the beginning. Along with that move - and as it rolls out - pricing will change and adjust.

Which brings us to innovation.

By putting advanced smartphones like this into the market, Google (just as Apple has done with the iPhone) is forcing the telecommunications industry to change and adapt... rapidly. We need better networks, better hardware and better handsets if consumers are going to buy something that is of equal (or better) value in terms of quality and features. So yes, the Nexus One is also going to change the face of the mobile industry by forcing it to adapt and innovate to these new types of devices and all of their capabilities (it is simply pushing along what the iPhone started).

But, there's something more happening here (and this is the marketing stuff).

The Nexus One's success in the marketplace is going to be predominantly benchmarked against how many units it sold compared to the iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, etc... Big mistake. Google could care less about how many units are sold (or how much each unit sells for). Google cares about the data. Having a phone in every person's hand running Google applications on a mobile Google OS (hello Android) powered by Google search is going to give Google deity-like powers. It's not just going to know what you're looking for, it's going to know where you are, who you are connected to, what you do, where you're going, what you like, what you're taking pictures of (hello Google Goggles) and oh, so much more. What is that data worth? Even if the penetration of the Nexus One hits under five percent of the entire mobile marketplace, that's still going to be a healthy enough data sample to have some pretty astounding insights into human nature and behaviour.

What do you think that's worth?

As that data evolves, Google will truly be able to innovate. They'll be capable of developing hardware, software, platforms, applications and tools based off of real-world use/needs. They'll be able to see (and probably) define trends in ways in which current marketing researchers could only dream of. We're going to see new forms of marketing, advertising and communications evolve and emerge from this (just as we did when they monetized their search engine results with AdWords). And, this brings us back to the current pricing of the Nexus One: it would not be out-of-character for Google to change this to a free device at some point in the future. Charging you $200-$500 for a device which might make you contemplate going to a competitive device is not really worth it to Google. Your usage and data is worth way more to them than that (the price of the phone is a pittance in comparison).

Don't be scared, this was happening anyway.

The major carriers and major device manufacturers (you know all the names and brands) are stuck. They simply can't keep up with the pace of innovation that Apple and BlackBerry are demonstrating (it's obvious by their lack of ability to really inspire the marketplace in recent years). In trying to alleviate that pain, they've adopted Android, Google applications and more Google-like stuff to get people to buy their brands. In doing so, they may be maintaining their market share, but they were also giving Google tremendous power in the mobile space. And, in case you were wondering, Google's evolution is not about search... it is about mobile.

What do you think?

By Mitch Joel