Nexus S drops December 16th

We’ve been waiting a long time to actually get a look at the Nexus One successor, and it’s finally here. The Nexus S, yes, based on Samsung’s Galaxy S, will on December 16th. The phone will be available unlocked for $529 or attached to a T-Mobile contract for $199. From what early reports are saying, this is the Android device to have.

The phone sports all the usual hardware – 1GHz processor, 5MP camera (720p capable), front-facing camera, hi-res display – but the real ‘Google experience’ is in the software. As with the Nexus One, the Nexus S comes with a ‘clean’ Android install (Gingerbread 2.3 on this one), meaning it’s unadulterated by the manufacturer or third-party vendors.

The Nexus S is also the first phone to market with built-in NFC support. Near-field communication isn’t such a big deal now, but it could easily become the way we handle quick transactions in the near future. It’s also a nice, fast way to send information between two NFC-enabled devices.

Nexus One store is closing

Nexus One storefront.It comes as no surprise that Google’s experiment in phone sales went poorly. It was so bad that the company will be shutting down its Nexus One storefront. Here’s the word from the official Google blog:

While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not. It’s remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it’s clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from.

Yeah, no kidding. I’m not sure why no one spoke up and said this at the meetings that must have happened before the phone launched. If anyone at Google thought Verizon or T-Mobile or Sprint or, well, any carrier would actually want to give up control over phone sales and contract pricing they should be beaten about the head with a sock full of Nexus Ones.

The new plan? Sell phones like everyone else.

Google’s Nexus One won’t get those 3G bug fixes

Google's Nexus One.The Nexus One has been a mixed bag for Android users. A lot of people really seem to love it. Steve Wozniak, Apple’s Steve Wozniak, called it his favorite gadget earlier this year. That’s awfully high praise coming from such a prominent Apple figure. For others, though, it’s been an unending mess of bug problems without any fixes. There have been display problems, software problems, hardware malfunctions, and the notorious 3G issues in which the Nexus One can’t seem to hold a 3G connection.

Well guess what – it’s not being fixed. That’s correct. The official Google stance is sorry, but you’re screwed. Here it is in geek speak:

I’ve seen some recent speculation on this thread about an OTA to improve 3G connectivity and I want to give you an update on the situation.

While we are continuing to monitor user feedback regarding the 3G performance on the Nexus One, we are no longer investigating further engineering improvements at this time.

If you are still experiencing 3G issues, we recommend that you try changing your location or even the orientation of your phone, as this may help in areas with weaker coverage.

That’s from the official Google support forums. It’s amazing that they’ll market and sell a smartphone to a bunch of nerds and then ask if anyone had thought of moving to improve reception. Wow.

iPhone sales growth nearly halts

iPhone handset sales.It’s funny how one success story can send the world into a frenzy. The iPhone has been an undisputed success, gobbling up market share by the full percentage point. It’s not unstoppable, though. As the latest comScore stats show, actually, sales growth is nearly nonexistent.

Let’s start with the good news, though. Apple is sitting at 25% market share – an incredible number for such a young presence in the market. This is the number that had everyone scared. The bad news for Apple is that it has stopped growing. Relative to the market, the last three months have only been up .3% for Apple. Compare that to RIM who’s up 1.7% on its 41.3% market share in October of last year. Android more than doubled in the last three months, granted only from 2.8% to 7.1% but that is still massive growth.

Part of the problem is no doubt that Apple has conditioned the world to believe every summer will bring a new iPhone. If that’s not the case in 2010, we might see some very stagnant iPhone numbers before year’s end.

Source: comScore

Apple supposedly warned HTC before it sued

iPhone with some devil horns.Part of the hullabaloo surrounding Apple’s recent litigation against HTC was that it supposedly came with little warning. That would have left HTC without much time to find suitable workarounds for the infringements in question, if it actually wasn’t warned in the first place. According to Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner, Apple did warn handset makers that it would be much stricter with regard to IP violations in the new year.

“Starting in January, Apple launched a series of C-Level discussions with tier-1 handset makers to underscore its growing displeasure at seeing its iPhone-related IP [intellectual property] infringed. The lawsuit filed against HTC thus appears to be Apple’s way of putting a public, lawyered-up exclamation point on a series of blunt conversations that have been occurring behind closed doors,” Reiner wrote in a report on the matter. If he’s to be believe, HTC may be the first in a string of suits that could lead to lucrative licensing deals for several of Apple’s technologies.

Source: CNN

Android Marketplace has superstar apps too

Car Locator on Android.You don’t have to be an iPhone developer to make a bunch of money from mobile applications. Take Edward Kim’s Car Locator. The free version of the app has been downloaded 70,000 times, while nearly 7,000 have picked up the paid version. Total revenue? How bout $13,000 a month.

Sure, it’s not the millions you’ve heard about in the App Store, but Kim has just one among a couple hundred “top” applications that are likely grossing at least as much as his if not more. The app had always done well, but it really took off when it was added to the featured list on the Android Marketplace. “it was netting an average of about $80 – $100/day,” Kim wrote on his blog, “until it became a featured app on the Marketplace. Since then, sales have been phenomenal, netting an average of $435/day, with a one day record of $772 on Valentine’s Day.”

Almost $800 for something that probably didn’t take all that long to code? Why do I write again?

Source: Eddie Kim

Are Android phones releasing too quickly?

HTC Desire.Take a look at that phone. It’s like the Nexus One, right? Just prettier. That UI looks great. And is that an optical trackball I see? This is the HTC Desire, the Nexus One’s smoking hot younger sister. It seems a bit strange that HTC would enter a contract with Google, build the Nexus One, and then release a better phone just a couple weeks later. It’s a trend that’s happening often with Android phones, and I think it’s starting to hurt the platform.

Consider the Droid. It was, at the time, the best Android phone to date. It looked great, pioneered Android 2.0, and debuted on America’s favorite network. By all accounts, Droid owners should have been very happy people. That is, until the Nexus One rolled into town. It had a newer version of Android, a better hardware interface, and it did away with that hideous physical keyboard. Unfortunately, a lot of Android fans had already flocked to the Droid to show their Google support. It’s a big problem in the US, where most consumers lock into contracts for subsidized hardware prices. The Nexus One released with lackluster sales.

Now this. There is no official word on a US release, but it’s headed for Asia in April and likely stateside shortly after. As pretty as this phone is, and as great as the Sense UI may be, I’d bet we’ll see some underwhelming sales numbers. If people didn’t buy the Android, they almost certainly picked up the Nexus One. Anyone that’s left is there by mere happenstance – an unwillingness to pay a disconnect fee a few months early, perhaps. This could be the best phone in the world, but the pace of Android hardware release will turn it into an anecdote.

Apple has been prone to the same thing in the past. If you ever bought an iPod you know it was playing second fiddle in just a few months. It’s something Cupertino got right with the iPhone, though. Even though there have been several iterations, Apple has kept its mouth shut about the product until just days before launch, giving it time to offload some of the older hardware before the newest version launches. Does it piss some people off? Sure. But much less so than watching new hardware roll out every month or two or getting an announcement of new hardware on the same schedule.

Linus Torvalds joins the Nexus One ranks

Linus Torvalds in a Speedo.Yes, that is Linus Torvalds in a Speedo. And yes, he got naked because he’s so excited about the Nexus One (that’s how I imagine things happening, anyway).

Actually, Torvalds just picked up a Nexus One. He’s notorious for his criticism of any and every cell phone, but he seems to love the Nexus One, so much he was willing to call it “a winner.” He doesn’t like that it’s a fun, rather that it has pinch-to-zoom capability and some GPS. Here’s what he said in his blog post:

I no longer feel like I’m dragging a phone with me “just in case” I would need to get in touch with somebody – now I’m having a useful (and admittedly pretty good-looking) gadget instead. The fact that you can use it as a phone too is kind of secondary.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that the phone runs Linux. Official Nexus One sales: 80,001.

Nexus One only moved 80,000 units in its first month

Google Nexus One.The world’s first self-titled “superphone” isn’t posting super sales. Frankly, the numbers are terrible. Embarrassing. Worse than I ever would have expected. The Nexus One has only sold 80,000 units in its first month.

It’s hard to say where the problem lies. Sure, the phone wasn’t marketed very well, and what efforts were made were aimed a demographic that likely already has their smartphone of choice. It also launched shortly after the Droid, so Android fans had just picked up a new phone. There’s also the fact that it was being subsidized by T-Mobile, which just doesn’t have the kind of support Verizon’s got.

Whatever the reason, I was surprised by the number. The iPhone, by comparison, sold 600,000 units in its first month. The Droid sold 525,000.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Nexus One bleeps your ####ing curse words

Nexus One.I’m always a little put off by profanity filters. They are increasingly built into video games and seem to find their ways into all sorts of other applications. What I didn’t expect was a filter on a cell phone, and then Google did it.

Yes, the Nexus One has a profanity filter as a part of its speech-to-text engine. At first I was pretty surprised. It seems mighty presbyterian of Google to pull something like that without talking about it. The real reason, though, makes a lot of sense.

We filter potentially offensive or inappropriate results because we want to avoid situations whereby we might misrecognize a spoken query and return profanity when, in fact, the user said something completely innocent.

So instead of something nasty when your four-year-old says ‘duck,’ all he’ll see is ‘####.’ Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to disable the feature, so you’ll have to write out that drunken text instead of just yelling it into your phone.