Google yesterday launched its much-anticipated debut smartphone, the Nexus One, and announced plans to sell the handsets both via carrier partners and independently.
The GSM-based Nexus One is now available in Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and the UK. Google is selling an unlocked version from $529, and is also approaching carriers to stock the phone.
In the US, T-Mobile USA has agreed to sell the Nexus One for $179 on a two-year contract, and Verizon Wireless plans to follow suit in the future. Vodafone has also agreed to offer the handset to its customers in Europe, Google said.
Just as the market rumors indicated, the handset has been developed by HTC to Google's specifications. It is powered by Google's own Android OS, and includes a 1 GHz Snapdragon chip.
"The Nexus One belongs in the emerging class of devices which we call ‘superphones,’ with the [onboard] chipset making it as powerful as your laptop computer of three to four years ago,” Google VP of Engineering Andy Rubin said.
The GUI includes shortcuts to Google services such as Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube and Google Voice. The handset sports UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, GSM/EDGE, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Google added that it is seeking more carrier partners, and plans to launch more Android phones using the same business model in the future.
Rumors of a Google phone have been circulating for years, but some observers had expressed doubt that Google would risk alienating handset makers at a time when the Android OS is just beginning to gain traction.
Selling the handsets unlocked, and therefore removing the element of handset exclusivity, might also discourage operators from subsidizing the phone. But these appear to be risks Google is willing to take.