With more than 80 Android handsets currently available and 300,000 phones being activated per day, the launch of the Nexus S is unlikely to make an impact on the wider Android market. However, the fact that Google is persevering with the Nexus brand shows that is still sees value in the venture, if only to showcase the latest version of the Android software in its pure form.
NFC comes to Android: limited impact without payment applications
Aside from a small number of new features, the hardware of the Nexus S is largely similar to many top-of-the-range Android smartphones in the market today. In fact, the handset is almost identical to the existing Galaxy S Android handset from Samsung (the company which also built the Nexus S), sharing the same screen size and processor.
One of the most significant hardware features of the Nexus S is the inclusion of a near-field communications (NFC) chip, which is supported in Android 2.3 onwards. NFC has long been heralded as the “next big thing” in the mobile industry, promising to change the way we make purchases by turning handsets into electronic wallets.
However, at the launch, Google was only promoting the technology as little more than a glorified barcode reader, being used to read location information and URLs from smart tags. Given Google’s investments in payments infrastructure through Google Checkout, it would have been nice to see Google kick start the nascent industry by launching a mobile payment system.
However, without even a mention of payment applications at launch, we must conclude that the company believes the market currently lacks sufficient maturity.