By now, you've heard the hubbub. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is preparing its own smartphone to challenge Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Palm, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , and -- oh, the horror! -- Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , a partner with Google. The new Nexus One, as it's known, is presumably slated to be sold through Google's website, beginning in January.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) executives probably hated this idea when they first heard it. Why? Control. Google plans to relinquish none, according to reports published by The Wall Street Journal. This won't be Droid 2.0.
Carriers just aren't part of the plan, though T-Mobile subscribers may get a discount on the Nexus One if The Big G and Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT ) reach an accord. The two companies are negotiating now, the Journal reports.
No other handset maker has shown this kind of guts -- or stupidity, if you think Google has gone mentally AWOL -- not even Apple. AT&T (NYSE: T ) has long had a say in how and when the iPhone gets tethering, a technology for connecting a cell phone to a computer to enable wireless Web access.
By going it alone, Google is reframing the argument over who controls the content that appears on a smartphone. Traditionally, that's been carriers. Apple has made progress with the App Store but apparently not enough for Google's taste.
And that's as it should be. Google, fundamentally, is an ad server. It can't allow a private network to stiff-arm software that will help it to collect data from Android handsets. To do so would be to waste the $750 million it spent for mobile ad market AdMob.
Carriers don't mind Google right now. The Droid is a hit. But just as Apple had its own finger-pointing fracas with Ma Bell, Google could suffer a spat with Verizon or T-Mobile over Android apps that pull unwanted data from their networks. That's a problem. Google isn't ever likely to approve of a model that allows carriers to dictate terms. The Big G thrives on unrestricted usage of its services; it's how its advertising engine gets smarter.
Google needs its own phone. Not because the other handset makers are a threat, but because it can't depend on the carriers.
But that's my take. Now it's your turn. Is Google's Nexus One the telecom equivalent of a thrown gauntlet? Please vote in the poll below. You can also sound off in the comments box at the bottom.
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Should Google stiff-arm the carriers and sell its smartphone directly?