Is the Nexus One the New BlackBerry?

There was a time when you had to pick a smartphone model and the service provider together. Want an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone? Then you're tethered to AT&T's (NYSE: T  ) wireless network. If you prefer wireless service through Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , you'd have to go with a BlackBerry Storm from Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) , or more recently a Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) Droid with the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android software inside.

The biggest exception to that rule was that RIM played the field. You can get a BlackBerry Curve, Pearl, or 8800 from any of the big four networks in North America, and many smaller outfits besides. Now Google is sending its Nexus One Androids into every corner of the market. The Nexus One is available on T-Mobile and AT&T today; the Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) version is now officially on the way, and we've known about Verizon's plans to carry the phone's announcement.

Google has copied the carrier-agnostic BlackBerry strategy and commissioned handset manufacturer HTC to create versions of the Nexus One for every relevant 3G communications standard. This is the exact opposite of Apple's single-vendor, single-model approach. It won't make the Nexus into a million-unit monster overnight like the Droid is, unless one or more of the carriers decide to put a $100 million marketing campaign behind the device like Verizon did for the Droid. But this even spread of consumer channels will level the playing field between the networks in a way that no smartphone outside the BlackBerry line ever did.

Google has made a commodity out of network providers, just like the cable industry is being reduced to a bunch of interchangeable Internet service providers. The Nexus One won't kill the iPhone or the BlackBerry, but it is a valuable experiment in cell phone business that will lead Google to bigger and better things.

Have any thoughts on the Nexus One moving to different carriers or the commoditization of wireless carriers? Drop a message in the comments area below!

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Sprint Nextel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2010, at 4:40 PM, marv08 wrote:

    Well, it is not quite the new BlackBerry... it lacks success. In true "talk Google up without an actual reason" fashion, you have have omitted one very minor difference: BBs are subsidized on all carriers, N1 is not (not on AT&T and only for new customers on T-Mob). Who will pay approx. $600 for this phone as long as AT&T is neither subsidizing it, nor offering any discount on voice and data rates? For AT&T customers, the N1 is effectively over $400 more than the iPhone 3GS (difference in price plus cost to match storage capacity, data tariffs are the same). Pointless.

    When Android was still a rumor, people were looking for a cheaper platform, eventually ad supported/subsidized. Now it is less polished and more expensive. No huge achievement. A device that will need half a year to sell even 250k units can't "level the playing field", it is hardly noticed.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2010, at 5:13 PM, conradsands wrote:

    Verizon and AT&T = The Most Expensive Wireless Calling Plans in America

    Wireless Profit Margins:

    Verizon Wireless = 45 percent

    AT&T = 39 percent

    Sprint = 18.2 percent

    Now we know where Verizon and AT&T get all that money to run commercials 24x7 and pay out big executive bonuses -- the American consumer.

    Not all pricing claims are the same. The advantages consumers get with Sprint’s $69.99 Everything Data plan include nationwide unlimited text and picture messaging, unlimited Web, unlimited GPS navigation and unlimited calling to any mobile in America, compared to AT&T and Verizon’s $69.99 pricing plans, which are good for unlimited talk only. And Sprint’s $69.99 plans are available with any phone while AT&T and Verizon’s are limited to lower-end phones.

    AT&T and Verizon have attempted to confuse the marketplace by lowering their pricing to $69.99, but theirs are for calling only. In today’s economic environment customers are interested in more than just voice pricing. They also want the best value for all the other things they rely on their wireless phone for and Sprint delivers. Sprint's Everything Data plans start at $69.99 per month and include Any Mobile, Anytime for unlimited calling with any U.S. wireless user, plus unlimited text, picture and video messaging, e-mail, Web browsing, social networking and more.

    4G wireless--which operates at speeds up to 10 times greater than today's 3G networks--could become a reality for many businesses and consumers over the coming year. Sprint, the current 4G leader, says it will introduce its first 4G smartphone before mid-year.

    Sprint Nextel is expected to unveil the first phone compatible with its fourth-generation mobile network at a wireless conference next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The device, made by HTC Corp. and dubbed the Supersonic, represents Sprint's latest and biggest bet that its WiMax network and promises of a speedier wireless connection.

  • Report this Comment On March 19, 2010, at 9:48 AM, THEcoletrain wrote:

    Thanks conradsands, I clearly know which company you work for/have ownership in. Sprint's pricing model is different in that it's unlimited plan has more inclusions, however, their product is also different.

    Sprint's network isn't as large and developed as AT&T or Verizon's and according to Consumer Reports their customer service levels aren't as high as Verizon's in every market that was surveyed. So yes, you get 'more' from Sprint at the same price, but are you really getting more?

    You can't compare these pricing models side-by-side because each company isn't exactly the same. How about everyone do their research and pick which provider is best for them in their area and we quit acting like Verizon and AT&T are horrible creatures. We as consumers decide if these companies live or die and if their pricing models are out of line with the market. Not just you conradsands. Sorry.

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