How disruptive is Nexus Two and Gingerbread going to be?

Posted by Charbax – October 30, 2010

Last year, I wanted to see a Nexus One for $199 unlocked. But it became $529 and upwards $3000 on 2-year contracts.

Andy Rubin told me at Mobile World Congress:

We are not the ones deciding the price.

Android has been the most disruptive thing to happen in the smart phone industry. The question is, what does Google want to do with the next level of this software platform? Is Google going to push for even faster auto-disruption of the telecom industry by pushing the industry towards significantly lower cost unlocked devices?

The rumors are that Samsung is working with Google (because they can) preparing a 4" Super AMOLED based, possibly Hummingbird 1-1.2Ghz, possibly Orion for Smart Phones (ARM Cortex-A9), possibly 4G-enabled, possibly quint-band to support all HSUPA+/CDMA and LTE/WiMax and maybe even White Spaces technologies all in one.

What I want to know: How cheap?

Samsung Galaxy S is priced above 440€ in Europe when bought unlocked (= $613 with EU 20% VAT, $490 without). Samsung has major agreements with all the major US carriers about selling their Galaxy S for upwards $3000 with the 2-year contracts that most US consumers sign and pay. How would Samsung agree to manufacture and sell a Google branded Gingerbread device significantly lower priced than their current Galaxy devices? The Samsung Galaxy Tab is upwards 799€ unlocked in Europe, upwards $1500 or more with the 2-year contracts in the US. It just doesn't sound probable enough to me that Samsung would be the manufacturer that would want to start selling a $199 unlocked mass market Android Super Phone to disrupt its own growing Android Smart Phone and Tablet businesses.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says they want to provide Smart Phones to the next 5 billion people, it has to reach developing countries. Are those developing countries going to have exclusive cheaper phones sold to them only while richer countries in Europe and the US are locked with choices mostly above the $400 if trying to buy things unlocked? Globalization should mean disruptive pricing achieved in one part of the world should also arrive to all other parts of the world simultaneously.

isuppli and other such hardware tear down and component analysis sites estimate the cost of materials and manufacture of even the top of the line current Android Super Phones to be trending downwards just $150 per super phone. We see more and more manufacturers competing in this market. How soon till we have choices for unlocked $199 Android Super Phones?

The coolest rumor on Gingerbread is that Google Voice will be highly integrated offering true VOIP functionality into the core of the Android OS. This would provide the software foundation for a data-centric Android phone, bought for below $200 unlocked, with data-only wireless pre-paid plans, no 2-year contracts required.

we’ve learned that Google’s adding SIP support in their Google Voice application to allow you to receive calls to your Google Voice number over WiFi and cellular data.

We want Google Voice worldwide not just on US cellular networks. A real VOIP and worldwide version of Google Voice in Gingerbread will be huge.