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Quickly evolving from what was little more than a rumor a few short days ago, the Google-branded phone widely referred to as the Nexus One will reportedly be available in January directly from Google or through T-Mobile with a service contract.
According to a source close to the developments, Google will offer an unlocked version of the Android-powered device directly through its website. Another version of the handset will be available on contract through T-Mobile for a subsidized price. Pricing details haven’t been confirmed.
In recent days, rumors of the phone codenamed the Nexus One grew to a fever pitch as the blogosphere was consumed with speculation regarding the new device and tweets came streaming in from Google employees offered the opportunity to test the new cellphone. On Saturday, the search engine giant confirmed on its official mobile blog that it had given employees the opportunity to experiment with a new phone, though the company elected not to provide further details.
“We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.”
Media reports have widely reported that the so-called “Google phone” will be manufactured by HTC. Documents filed by HTC earlier this month with the Federal Trade Commission identify a new device known as the Nexus One.
The Android operating system, developed by Google, is already available on devices made by many major device manufacturers and available through major wireless carriers including Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. An “unlocked” device, capable of being used with more than one carrier, would allow consumers to easily pick and change their wireless provider without being bound by a service contract.
While unlocked devices have long been freely available, smartphones without the pricing subsidies granted because of carrier contracts are widely perceived as prohibitively expensive. For the purposes of illustration, the heavily promoted Motorola Droid is a mere $200 when purchased on contract, but would cost consumers $500 without contract.
A competitively priced unlocked phone could threaten to steer the industry away from the status quo where consumers desiring a particular device must commit to a multi-year contract.