Google’s new phone marketing gold?

Google debuted its new Nexus One handset last night with loads of hype, but one marketing expert thinks all the Google vs. Apple fuss is missing the point. PC on every desk? Try computer in every hand.


After years of speculation, Google finally unveiled its entry into the mobile handset manufacturing world last night with a new mobile phone called the Nexus One.

The phone uses Google’s Android mobile operating system and has been produced without subsidization from any major wireless carrier, a move that allows the company to sell direct to consumers through its website. Currently it is available from T-Mobile in the US.

The phone is not yet available in Canada due to concerns around certification and import regulations, says Wendy Rozeluk, spokesperson, Google Canada.

But that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to marketers here in Canada, says Mitch Joel, president, Montreal’s Twist Image and author of Six Pixels of Separation. In fact, he says, Google’s move into the mobile handset manufacturing world means much more than just whether or not it can compete with the iPhone on the open market.

‘I don’t believe that Google is in the business of forging revenue from selling handsets,’ Joel explains. ‘I think that’s a very secondary, non-important issue to them.’

‘I think that what Google really understood is that this is the ability to get a computer into every hand. This is one of the first things that we really need to embrace,’ he continues.

‘The second thing is pure data. Google is very much a data-driven company. The data that they will be able to cull in terms of usage, location, etc. is really where the gold is here. If we felt as marketers that there was gold in understanding what people are looking for, imagine understanding what people are doing, looking for, taking pictures of, seeing, talking about. So suddenly this data becomes a multiple of millions.’

The phone is currently available in the US, and may soon be shipped to the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore, Rozeluk says.

‘The Nexus One also had to undergo certification in all countries we sell the phone in, and we wanted to ensure that the import regulations didn’t make the phone prohibitively expensive,’ she explains further. ‘Because of this, we decided to initially sell the Nexus One in three countries. We hope to allow people in other countries to purchase the Nexus One and future phones from Google soon.’