Ah, Google's Nexus One...the Googlephone. For a while we were excited about the amazing things you might do. Then we worried. And with newly leaked info on how you'll be sold, we're done: You're way less exciting than we'd hoped.
The chaps over at Gizmodo landed a superb late, late Christmas gift yesterday evening--supposedly leaked documentation that set out exactly how much the Nexus One is being sold for, and how much it'll cost to run.
The answer: $530 unsubsidized and unlocked through Google's own web store. This represents the "real" price of the phone, lacking a carrier subsidy. And its expensive. It's pretty much in the same ballpark as other Android phones--indeed many touchscreen smartphones of other types (it's roughly the price I just paid for my 32GB iPhone 3GS, since that's how the sales model works in the country I live in.) To get it cheaper, you'll have to buy it tied up to a two-year T-Mobile contract, and there it'll cost you $180--again roughly how much a similar-specced smartphone of a different type will cost.
Here's the killer though: It seems there's just one single rate plan available for the Nexus. The "$39.99 Even More + Text + Web" which tallies up to a whopping $79.99 total. You can't even keep your existing T-Mobile rate plan if you switch--you have to get the Nexus One one. If that's too rich for your blood, you have to buy the unlocked one and take your chances.
Oh, and there's one more thing--the final professional-killer shot to the head perhaps. If you cancel that T-Mobile plan inside 120 days, you either have to return the phone to Google, or you owe them the difference between the subsidized price and the unsubsidized one--$350. Ouch.
So despite its Google livery, and its high-specced internals, the Google phone isn't the One Android Phone To Rule Them All. It's simply another among the herd, and it's likely that both its specs and prices will be quickly beaten by a competitor Android maker. And there's another thing here, that many commenters on the Web seem to have overlooked: Remember the last heavily-branded Google Phone, also launched in partnership with T-Mobile and made by HTC with guidance from Google? Yup--the first one, the G1. The Nexus One's launch mechanism is eerily similar to the G1's, it seems...with cleverer hardware. The G1 didn't really take the world by storm, so presumably Google's hoping the Nexus One will fare better. Maybe Sergei and Larry should show up on time for this (January 5) launch event?