More Google Smartphones Will 'Show What's Possible'

The Nexus One was the "Alpha" of Google-branded smartphones, but it won't be the "Omega" according to an article appearing on Friday. The San Jose Mercury News interviewed Google's Andy Rubin who said that the N1 was just the first of a line of "Google phones." According to the article: 

Rubin did not say when the next Google phone would come out or what kind of specifications it would have. But he did say he is excited about the possibility of phones built around dual-core processors, which effectively have two computer "brains" on one chip.

"There's going to be another one and another one and another one and another one. It's just going to get better," said Rubin. "In an open-source ecosystem, where anybody can have the technology that we're creating, our role becomes shepherding that technology into the highest-performing, most innovative products possible"  . . .

The Nexus One, which has a 1-gigahertz single-core processor, an extra-large touch screen and can display 3-D graphics, was on the cutting edge when Google released it in January. He said the company's upcoming phones will continue to push the envelope of technology.

The Nexus One launches in the UK on Friday with Vodafone.

So Google will apparently be leading its posse of OEM handset partners by creating a bar for them to match or hopefully surmount. In a way then Google's phones (built by its manufacturing partners but designed by Google) are prototypes. Selling them to consumers ensures that their features and capabilities will make it to market. Nearly every Android phone is a Google phone and advances the raison d'être of Google mobile search usage. 

Despite the public rhetoric that hardware OEMs (i.e., Motorola) weren't upset or threatened by the Nexus One, Motorola's very public announcement of a "global alliance" with Bing/Microsoft was in my view at least partly an expression of displeasure with Google over the Nexus One. Yet Google will apparently continue this kind of "tough love" approach with partners as it seeks to more aggressively compete with the iPhone and grow its mobile search business.

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Related: At the end of last week there were a series of reports that Google Navigation would be coming to the iPhone. Then Google seemed to "walk back" those reports: 

"We did not say we would bring it to iPhone, we said to date we've had it on Android and that in the future it may come to other platforms but did not confirm this will be coming to iPhone at all," a Google spokesperson told PCWorld.

I was at the Google Navigation launch press event last year and Google VP Vic Gundotra said that the iPhone would probably see Google Navigation at some point. However Google's ambivalence about putting Navigation on the iPhone is very interesting and reflects a desire to "keep some goodies" for Android phones exclusively or at least for a strategic period. 

Google wants and needs features that differentiate from the iPhone. Multi-tasking was one and now that's gone with the release of OS 4. Free navigation is a great app, Google knows it -- and appears to be hoarding it for Android for the time being.