Google Nexus One phone – its feature set is not the point

We don’t normally cover the minutiae of tech industry developments on this Native blog (plenty of blogs are dedicated to that if you want it). But this post about developments in mobile is well worth understanding.

As a user you do not have the freedom to choose the carrier with the iPhone. Nor can you buy an unlocked version. Apple dictates what carrier you are to use. As a developer you cannot get your iPhone app in the store, unless Apple approves it. You are at their mercy. And while this might improve quality it also provides a ground for corruption or power misuse.

Google on the other hand has taken an entire different approach. Instead of focusing on controlling the entire experience, it places the user in the center and lets him decide what to do. It has created Android OS which is now distributed across many different devices. It has an app store that everyone has access to. It encourages free distribution and development of their software. And now it has delivered the Nexus One, a phone that isn’t tied to a mobile carrier, and (disregarding some technical barriers) can be used with any carrier. They even have set up a web store where you can buy the phone without a carrier, or add a carrier plan to it. Who would have thought this to be possible 3 years ago? Who could actually break the monopoly the carriers had on handset distribution? We have to thank Google for that although Apple clearly paved the path for this disruption.

Alexander Vanelsas nails the key difference between Apple’s iPhone and Google’s new Nexus One phone. It’s not about the pros and cons of the specific features of the device, but the entire philosophy which Google have embraced.

Unlike Apple’s closed iPhone system and app store, Google’s own ecosystem is open. Its mobile operating system, Android, is free software.

Any company or individual is free to download the software, adapt it, improve it and also to develop applications which run on it – and is free to distribute them. Whether they then charge for the software is up to them and their business model.

This is not only a sound philosophy, but a killer business strategy for Google.

In other words, Google has unleashed a wave of innovation here and through Android, already opened the way for “clone” mobile devices to flourish. It is certain to boost the widespread adoption of cheap smartphones with web access.

If you’re in the planning stages of a social media project, then don’t ignore the imminent growth of mobile web access.