A First Step in Google's New Android Strategy?
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- He's baaaaack! No, I'm not talking about a zombie in a scary movie or Mitt Romney's future press secretary, Newt Gingrich.
I'm talking about Google(GOOG) selling unlocked Android phones directly again, bypassing the cellular carriers.
Those of you with decent smartphone memories will recall that Google jumped into this strategy once before, in January 2010, with the Nexus One.
The alleged reasons why Google quietly backed away from that strategy was some combination of the following two:
- 1. Google couldn't handle the customer support. Although this isn't surprising for those who try to get customer support from any of the other free Google services, one would like to think that Google could have walked and chewed gum at the same time, compartmentalizing this product. Or, more likely, it was just a terrible execution debacle on Google's side. I mean, simply offering telephone support, if nothing else, is not rocket science.
- 2. Google was pressured, or easily bowed to, the carriers such as Verizon Wireless (a joint venture of Verizon Communications(VZ) and Vodafone(VOD) ). Again, this seems like a flimsy argument, because other devices are also sold outside carrier channels. Apple(AAPL) will sell you an unlocked iPhone, and Nokia(NOK) will do the same. Although these unlocked devices haven't been that popular in the U.S., they can be sold, and U.S. carriers seem to have had nothing to fear here.
Anyway, Google is back for a second bite at the apple here. Starting earlier this week, you can buy the HSPA+ version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus SIM-unlocked and contract-free directly from Google for $399.
Then you can head to your local Walmart and get a T-Mobile SIM card for $30, which gives you 5 gig of HSPA+ data, unlimited overage, unlimited SMS, and 100 minutes for circuit-switched calling.
Over two years, you'll spend a fraction of what a device like this would cost you on a major carrier contract.