Earlier this week, Google unveiled the Nexus One; the search giant’s first branded mobile phone. Then the company confirmed that Nexus One, and all subsequent Google phones sold via the company’s online store, will be available unlocked for use on every participating carrier. Microsoft has weighed in on this development, specifically where Google is both offering Android to its partners and allowing one partner to benefit from having a Google-branded phone, concluding that it is a flawed strategy. The software giant says that Google will have a hard time attracting partners to its mobile operating system after introducing its own handset, even if it is developed by HTC.
Microsoft has been rumored to be working on its own mobile phone for months, if not years. Officially though, the company insists that releasing its own branded smartphone would be contrary to its strategy of offering just the operating system to a number of partners who then provide various hardware options so that consumers can have a myriad of devices to choose from. Thus it’s not too big of a surprise to hear Microsoft Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach bash Google for the move, saying that handset makers may fear the company will prioritize its own product over theirs and ditch Android as a result.
“Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult,” Bach said at CES 2010 yesterday, according to Bloomberg. “Google’s announcement sends a signal where they’re going to place their commitment. That will create some opportunities for us and we’ll pursue them. Over time you have to decide whether your approach is with the partners or more like an Apple approach that is more about Apple. Google’s is an interesting step. We’ll see how people react.”
Google may have a hard time convincing their licensees that they’re not in competition with them. Still, Google has at least one advantage over Microsoft: Android is free for licensees to put on their devices. If Google started off by launching the Nexus One and then began distributing Android, it would be a big problem. Since it’s the other way around, we must remember that gratis is an addiction hard to drop once you’ve had it for a few months.