Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Nexus One smartphone, once thought to be a myth by some, is apparently due to be introduced at a press event scheduled for Jan. 5.
Good. Google needs its own Android smartphone to wrest account control from carriers such as AT&T (NYSE: T ) , and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , among others.
The details offer no real surprises. Gizmodo is reporting that Google will sell an unlocked version of the N1 for $530, and a subsidized edition for $180. The latter comes with a minimum two-year commitment to Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT ) T-Mobile. The plan clocks in at $80 per month, the site says, citing material obtained from an unnamed source.
I'm not so sure that T-Mobile agreed to this pricing enthusiastically; it's high enough that some early adopters, fresh off memories of being stuck in a bad relationship with AT&T, will opt for the unlocked edition of the N1 and roam where they choose.
Other carriers must be cringing. If T-Mobile is playing along, it must be because it lags rivals in smartphone adoption. And yet it's a deal with a telecom devil. Account control and long-term contracts have long been the industry's twin sources of profit protection. Google is changing that, and the shift could lead to several highly disruptive ideas.
One possibility: marketing plans where users would sign up to receive a certain number of weekly pitches from Google's AdMob network, in exchange for a subsidized Nexus One handset.
Of course, regulators would first have to approve of The Big G's $750 million buyout of AdMob before any such offer could be made. But if they do, and if it happens, expect Google's Android partners to scream. Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , notably.
Rivals, too, will be watching closely. The N1 could create further demand for Android applications, and in the process stifle development of software for Palm's (Nasdaq: PALM ) Pre and Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry. Both platforms need coder commitment in order to compete in the market long-term.
Finally, let's talk timing. Google's PR team is rallying press hours before the first announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Don't be surprised if The Big G sends a few employees to the show floor with boxes of N1 handsets to give away. That's how you keep the buzz.
Yet Google doesn't need PR stunts to show us that it's determined to change the telecom industry. It just needs to deliver a rebellious handset. See you in the New Year, Nexus One.
Will the N1 forever change the dynamics of the mobile telecom industry? Weigh in using the comments box below.