Thursday, January 21, 2010

Google's Nexus One, Redux: More of the Same, and Why That's Good

About nine or ten years ago, I was an editor at Internet World magazine, working in cool metallic modern cubicles in Manhattan, surrounded by a number of great editors and designers who were, frankly, smarter than I was. It was a great place to be to learn more about all of the new technology and online trends that were happening or about to happen. One such trend that caught my attention and was a continuing irritant to me was the announcement every so often of a new device. A PDA to do this. A handheld to do that. A cell phone to do something else.

I thought at the time, I don't want to carry one device for my schedule, one device for calling my friends, another device for getting mapping directions, and another device for playing games. Put them all (and more) on one device, and then it becomes magic. Then I don't have to carry around two or three or four different stupid devices, with the inherent danger of breaking or losing one of them. (Which I would; I'm a klutz. My main impetus for getting contact lenses was that I broke my glasses too easily.)

Lo and behold, Steve Jobs was reading my thoughts -- in an entirely non-remunerative sort of way, alas -- and Apple eventually produced the game-changing iPhone. It's a beautiful product, and it revolutionized the cellphone industry. I didn't get one, because Jobs did something else he likes to do, which is to keep things very close to him, so you couldn't get an iPhone in the United States unless you were an AT&T customer. Since I was already happy with T-Mobile, and I knew the hazards of other cell phone companies, I decided to wait.

Eventually along came the G1 smartphone, which T-Mobile sold. And now we have the Google Nexus One, which T-Mobile can't sell but does serve, and I am one squeeky happy customer. But that's more than you needed to know.

However, not all people need or want the same thing. My webmaster was telling me earlier today about his choices. He moved away from an iPhone this year to a separate phone and PDA. His reason was that he didn't want to have all of his important functions on one device, which, if destroyed or disabled, would render him helpless with his work and private lives. As his colleague, I was impressed with his reasoning, even if I was saddened that I couldn't effectively evangelize for the Nexus One.

I just found it interesting that there are good reasons out there to go in the opposite direction from the one I was requiring of the handheld device industry.

One device, many uses still seems like the way to go. But technology companies would be missing a market opportunity if they were purely lemmings and didn't pay attention to customers with other needs.

(But really, but the Google Nexus One. You'll love it.)

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