Give me a superphone too

January 11th, 2010

Why should we be excited for a phone that has no near-term intentions of making a debut in India — a land of 500 million plus mobile phone subscribers of which 20 million or so use a smartphone device? The answer is simple –it heralds Google’s plunge into a segment where it made its presence felt till now only through Android mobile platform. Secondly, although the handset is not the first to use the Google mobile operating system, called Android, it is the first device that the company has designed itself down to the last detail.

But Google, which has a large presence in India didn’t even bother with an India launch plan when it unveiled the phone this week. Okay, so who needs it any way? And Allen Nogee, Principal Analyst,Wireless Technology, In-Stat thinks so too. “To better fit into the market in India, it (Nexus One) needs to support the phone technologies supported in India, or at least a CDMA version.  In addition, an application store just for the India market would be a big benefit, allowing developers in India the chance to design applications just for the India market.” That’s so right, Ms Nogee.

Yet when I see my friends in Singapore and Canada reciting tales of how they booked the superphone via Google’s web portal, some got the unlocked for $530, and others booked the carrier bundled-Nexus One for around $180, it only reminds me of my developing nation status. Sad, but true that Indian markets are never really the top choice for launching a technologically advanced device. Case in point - Apple’s 3GS phone that seems dismissive of hit the Indian fans, Kindle that came to India but at prices that it remains an exclusive device, Sony’s e-reader is not even bothered about Indian consumers and now Nexus One joins the ranks.

I can’t stop myself from lusting after this device ever since I read that Nexus One is powered by the super-fast Qualcomm QSD82350 (Snapdragon) 1GHz processor that leaves iPhone 3GS’s slower 600MHz processor far behind. Unlike iPhone which only has an internal storage, Nexus One has a microSD card slot (expandable up to 32GB and will ship with 4GB card. Another sigh!

While I would like to believe that the phone does hold potential in many international markets (like India) and could even eat into the share of dominant players like Nokia, Samsung and BlackBerry, mainly because smartphone users would love to try Google — a well-trusted name in its choice of hardware. But Google clearly thinks it is better off without a distribution plan for India.
I need to see how long the company like Google can afford to be a snob when it comes to launching new technologies in developing economies like ours.

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