Google’s ‘Superphone’ Rings Rivalry to iPhone

Google unveiled its new Nexus One smartphone this week in a direct challenge to heavyweight Apple’s iPhone handsets.

The internet giant billed the touch-screen device, the culmination of collaboration with Taiwanese electronics titan HTC, a “superphone” that marked the next step in the evolution of its Android software.

“I think you will see it pushes the limits of what’s possible on a smart phone,” HTC chief executive Peter Chou said as the smartphone debuted at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Tuesday

“It is very thin and feels good in your hand.”

Nexus One handsets are no thicker than pencils and no heavier than keychain Swiss Army knives, Google engineer Erick Tseng said while demonstrating one of the smartphones.

“It is a great marriage of form and function,” Tseng said.

Nexus One smartphones are built on the same Android 2.1 software that runs Droid smartphones that recently hit the market with innovations like 3D graphics, according to Tseng.

The handsets feature new speech command capabilities that allow users to speak emails, text messages or internet search queries.

Nexus One devices can provide turn-by-turn spoken driving directions from a Google mapping programme.

Google launched its own online store at where the Nexus One will be sold. It is not currently for sale in Indonesia.

“This is really a Google phone,” said Interpret analyst Michael Gartenberg.

“A lot of the Android phones that came to market are kind of lacklustre. One of the ways to avoid mediocrity is to kick things up a couple of notches yourself.”

Nexus One smartphones will be sold at the Google-hosted web store for US$529 dollars “unlocked,” without ties to a telecom carrier.

Nexus One handsets will be offered starting at $179 if paired with T-Mobile service contracts in the United States.

Google has formed partnerships with telecom firm Verizon in the United States and Vodafone in Europe.

Nexus One devices linked to service from Verizon in the US and Vodafone in Europe should be available by mid-year, according to Google.

Google said it will ship Nexus One devices to buyers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Britain and the United States.

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