back to article You and what Android? The Google iPhone killer that isn't

So is it the Google phone or not? In the Nexus One, Google has produced something rather like an iPhone, something that in some senses may seem better than an iPhone, but something that in hardware terms is an iteration rather than a game-changer. But does Google, the company that wasn't going to do hardware, now do hardware? …

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Google

We all know where they stand on privacy dont we?

To them it seems like a thing of the past

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WTF?

The hype machine

Seems like a really nice phone, apart from the lack of multitouch, which cripples it somewhat. But it really is crazy how much hype Google managed to drum up with virtually no effort whatsoever. Apple and Google both seem to have this skill, albeit in very different ways. It will be interesting to see how long Google retains the ability, if all of their launches turn out to be so underwhelming.

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Anonymous Coward

The news lies in the distribution

Wait 6 months and this will just be another phone in an evolving line of android-based handsets. The important news is that Google is trying to wrestle free from the operator-grip on the market. Network neutrality in the mobile market can not happen as long as the operators control handset-functionality through their contracts with handset manufacturers. Regulators should have cleaned up the mess a long time ago, but it seems the market itself will have to deal with the operator-cartel.

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Thumb Down

mmm.... not quite

I know that El Reg has something of a theme with Google wanting to retain data, but I think it's going to be a hard case to make that this is all about G wanting to get more consumer data. I mean, come ON.

So the phone is an HTC Android phone with a big G badge on it - so far so what. If we take Google at face value then they genuinely think that selling it themselves, sim-free, is going to revolutionise the way mobile phones are bought, and ensure that the choice of handset is no longer dependent on the choice of network. Which, if the networks don't scupper it, sounds interesting, and still a one-up on the iPhone. Except that at present it's available subsidised by only one network (or unlocked).

So the question is whether you take them at face value, or think that perhaps they just wanted to get more cash from the mobile business, and something that makes money for them beyond just keyword advertising

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Stop

"Google wanting to retain data"

Not the problem. The problem is that Google want to apply and in some cases sell data. Read their consumer data poicies; quite enlightening reading if you notice what they do _not_ say in there.

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FAIL

Jesus Phone II

Really, 529 of your US dollars without a contract, and a not disimilar list of networks to that Apple announced for their own Jesus Phone if you choose the lower but still substantial 179 dollar price. Cue the phoney, marketing drone arranged queues at distributors......

Bored already. Its a fscking phone. It will not make you more appealing to the opposite sex or change your life in any appreciable way. Fail

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Title

"You agree that Google is not the manufacturer, but the seller, of the Device. You acknowledge that HTC is the manufacturer of the Device and provides the Limited Warranty for repairs and service of the Device."

Talk about condemning yourself out of your own corporate mouth. In the good ol' UK the Sale of Goods Act makes the seller responsible for the goods should they be faulty, not as described or not fit for purpose.

At least we know who's responsible then.

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Jobs Halo

I am stunned

That you managed to stretch this out to two pages. This was never marketed as an iPhone killer, that phrase is just used by tech sites trying to drum up traffic. It doesn't have Apple style prelaunch hype since the details were released just a few weeks before launch and from then on the information was solid fact. Apple remain tight lipped about their products while all their worshippers spin out endless rumours.

You seem to be trying to make some point about how they are dodging the issue of their "never make a phone claim" but in doing so you are simply making an equally weak argument and stringing it out beyond its merit.

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Anonymous Coward

Business model

What Google seem to want to do, yet have failed to do, is to change the business model. You can get it for $179 with a $70/month contract which is neither innovative nor especially cheap, or you can get it for $529 SIM-free. However what you're supposed to do with this SIM-free phone in the US is unclear since the US doesn't have SIM-free deals at a lower monthly tariff than subsidized phones. So why anyone would do this in the US, except to export the phone is a mystery?

Now what Google should have done, and probably wants to do but has so far failed, is to create a model where you buy the phone and then choose service provider (the original idea of the GSM SIM approach). But clearly the operators in the US don't like this at all.

Maybe in time, if the Google phone is successful, they'll be able to exert more influence over the operators. But then, without the new biz model, maybe they won't be so successful? Catch 22!

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Silver badge

why anyone would do this in the US

Because then you don't get a "branded" phone that T-Mobile (or whoever) has thoroughly pissed on, and updates they haven't pissed on if they let you have them at all, months behind the rest of the planet.

Wasn't there a story recently about a Droid phone where the operator wouldn't let it have Android updates?

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Anonymous Coward

I don't care if it is not an iPhone killer

I love the freedom of Android devices and like to be able to install what I want - not have that twat Jobs decide for me.

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Anonymous Coward

Installs for sure

You'll be wanting effective A/V software for it then.

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Andoid Security in a Nutshell

One of the things I like about Android is the application security. I've not used so cannot compare to the iPhone.

On Android, applications are each given their own user account, and are restricted to that user account. An application can only access it's own storage, and the SD card (it can't modify Android short of creating icons in the Launcher). This is why you can't install Apps to SD officially, as the SD card needs an ext filesystem to support the permissions to restrict application access.

If an application want's to use other parts of the phone, camera, contacts, SMS, internet, it needs to specify it in it's manifest file, which the user is then informed about during install. So if you're installing a new software keyboard that wants the 'internet' permission, you have the chance to think twice. This does of course require the capability of thinking.

I have often thought it needs to go one level further, and give you tickboxes to select which permissions you want an application to have, so I could install the software keyboard, without giving it Internet access.

Further, you need to specify in settings whether you can install from an APK (Android Package) directly, without that ticked, you cannot install software from 3rd parties. Ticking that gives you a nice warning about untrusted applications -- not that market applications are any more vetted.

You are right of course, being able to install *anything* does bring with it a huge risk over installing only Apple tested applications, but it does also provide greater flexibility of the platform and IMO is worth it.

Not being able to install anything is the only real reason I have for not wanting an iPhone, I'm building software for my parents company to monitor their packing machine remotely, the software is specific to the company, and I can install it on each device. Would I have to submit the software to Apple and iTunes to distribute this for an iPhone?

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Silver badge

Who cares they don't make it.

Apple don't make iPhones. Doesn't Foxconn make them? Is there anything Apple designed Hardware wise in an iPhone other than the case?

The manufacturer's warranty is often so full of ifs and maybes and exemptions that in Europe it's much more important that the Person that sold it to you, not the maker has 1st responsibility to replace or repair or refund if it it is not "of suitable merchantable quality", or develops faults or fails within too short a time period (which may be 1 to 5 years depending on Product.

Most Manufacturers' warranty are not worth the paper they are on. Keep the receipt and point out to the Retailer that they are responsible.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Who cares they don't make it.

Um, yes there is a whole bunch of stuff, aside from the case. I believe Apple has sent Nokia a list. (-:

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WTF?

Hardware hardware hardware

News articles are really picking on this point a lot. They said they won't do hardware. They are now selling a phone. HTC made the hardware of the phone. End of, move on already. It's not the end of the world and in the end and at the core of it all, they are a business. They have no obligations to you or the way you choose to interpret what they say.

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Hype?

Is it not the media that have created all the hype and expectation? I don't really recall a great deal of information or news directly from Google until the actual launch.

As for where Google are going for this, it's purely a marketing ploy to get people more comfortable and familiar with Android, regardless of HW manufacturer. I'm sure the majority of mobile users still don't actually care who makes their phone. More Android users will lead to more Google service users which provides Google with what they are always after - more data.

Google have never been a Big Bang company. They always release something basic and simple that works, and after a few months you find yourself wondering how you managed without it.

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Thumb Up

Good point Tim

The same is true with Apple - the hype around the iPhone was the same - take a look at the iSlate, or what ever it's going to be be called, all media hyperbole. Much like Google, Apple's hyperbole doesn't start until after they've announced a product. Microsoft on the other hand...

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Google doesn't get it

Consumers shouldn't look at the device?!? That's what the consumer is buying. They're not buying an ecosystem, a theory, a distribution model, or anything but a device. The Nexus One will either do what consumers want, and do it better or less expensively than its competitors, or people will buy something else.

I didn't buy my iPhone because Apple has a great ecosystem for working with mobile phone providers and hardware developers. I bought my iPhone because it was by far the best at handling the tasks I need to do. FAR better than my old RAZR and Palm Vx with TomTom combo.

What's interesting is that Google is trying to become Microsoft, and Microsoft wants to become Google. Apparently neither company must think that their business models are going to be viable for growth in the future, because they both seem very willing to jump into something completely different.

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Anonymous Coward

Game changing product?

Not really. It's just a phone.

Just like the iPhone is 'just a phone'

The iPhone didn't really change the game much either, it just did pretty much the same stuff better than the existing incumbents. The GP may not be much better (if at all ) than the iPhone, but it's a start, and I would expect the ramp up to something that improves on the iPhone to be quicker than Apple can manage in return (because the code is more open, and there are multiple manufacturers working on Android phones ).

It's quite amusing how many people complain that this isn't a game changing product, but haven't come up with something themselves. It's difficult to see what can be added to a phone nowadays to make it a game changer. They have GPS, HD video, HDMI out, MP3 players, high quality stills capture (given the limitations), games, voice recognition, keyboards (physical and virtual). They have applications for almost anything you want to do. Now, anyone have any ideas what is left? Any suggestions? No? Me neither.

I know, I want a phone that actually works in my house out in the sticks. Now that would be a game changer.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Game changing product?

In my opinion the iPhone WAS a game changer. Prior to its launch the networks and the hardware manufacturers were in a constant struggle for control. And the networks quite often won, even (notably?) against Nokia. Our own Bill Ray, discredited prophet of the iPhone's failure, yesterday made the point that "Back in 2006, Apple's lack of experience with operators proved its advantage: Steve Jobs pushed far harder than anyone else would have dared and the operators proved far more flexible than expected."

More fool them. Apple certainly did seize power from the operators, and it's an interesting notion that it might have done so because it didn't know any better. But Apple is run by a maniac, and the people who run Google are just creepy. So although Google also seems to want to take control from the networks, what it's got so far seems to me to be pretty feeble, and they're probably not vicious enough to push hard enough.

I'm with you on the phone that works in the sticks though, as is Bill.

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Re: Game changing product? Reply

"Apple certainly did seize power from the operators"

What "power" are you referring to? Apple made a decision to use a single provider, and those who purchased an iPhone are at the mercy of AT&T, not at the mercy of Apple. Are you saying that, prior to the iPhone, telephone service providers previously told phone manufacturers how to design their operating systems? Like how AT&T prevented Nokia from including multi-touch? (Not.) Or how Apple forced AT&T to include some service that was previously unavailable to other users, but existed in the pipeline? (Like as if Apple forced AT&T to start offering call waiting, rather than holding that tech in reserve until AT&T decided they wanted to roll it out. Not.)

Apple had a heavy hand in developing a new phone operating system, and continued their long tradition of being totally anal in their relationships with hardware manufacturers, but as far as "seizing power" from a telco ... we have yet to see that. Having been a user of one and tech support for dozens of iPhone users, I can tell you that there is nothing radical or "power seizing" in the iPhone except for multi-touch (exceedingly similar and even less functional than the multi-touch tech deployed by Microsoft's Surface operating system in 2007) and its locked down status ... unless you claim that the iPhone is NOT a handheld computer with telephony.

Since you referenced your old Palm Vx (without telephony) and other handheld computers, I can only think that you DO include the iPhone into the "handheld computer" category, which makes it less of a marvel and more of yet another predictable entry into the production stream.

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Coat

Not a game changer?

The iPhone, when it first came out, had quite a number of industry firsts. Multitouch screen, touchscreen keyboard, basically totally solid-state design, to name only three. But those, in my estimation, make it the game changer. I tried RIM's products. The "keyboards" were (and still are) complete rubbish, the menu structure a nightmare. Nokia: I won't even call their 8 and 9k series input thingamajigs keyboards; that would be an insult to keyboards. Navigating the Nokia phones of the time was, if anything, even worse than with Blackberries. The iPhone was the very first smartphone to offer a truly intuitive interface. Even my brother, who shuns anything not hardwired to a wall outlet as if it were poisoned, could find his way around it on the first try, without having to read a manual.

Note that I am not happy with the software restrictions on the Jesus Phone, but I do see some reasoning behind them, at least (as an exercise in understanding this, list the viruses, working live-action exploits, worms and other damaging software for non-jailbroken iPhone, then just compile the number of such software available for the Blackberry, Nokia's smartphones, et al). I am completely pro Open Source, but so far, the closed-_accessibility_ strategy behind the iPhone OS seems to work pretty well. Not betting a farthing on the future, though.

Mine's the one with the sixteen-year-old Motorola 5300 in its pocket... oh, sorry it bent your coathanger with its weight...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Game changing product? Reply

Well, they got a better deal from the operators than seemed rational at the time (to several of us on The Reg, at least), and it contrived to skim off all of the added value sales via the app store, leaving the networks to make their money off of voice and data. And it also managed to screw the networks by dumping a huge increase in data traffic onto them. But that one was more of a cheap gag they deserved than a seizure of power.

Remember that both networks and hardware companies have in the past tried and failed to set up their own revenue-generating walled gardens, one of the reasons they've failed being the argument over how the revenue gets divvied up. Apple has succeeded.

Remember also that the operators losing control is not the same as the users winning control. One to bear in mind as Google rides to the rescue of the US cellphone market, ahem.

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Heart

Great article

I was thinking "oh no not another one", but it's a fine closing statement.

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Can Someone Explain...

Why is it that this is being touted as 'The Googlephone' when it's made by HTC (like the HTC Magic, for example), has a Google logo (like the Magic), runs Android (like the Magic), has Google products pre-installed (like the, well, you get the picture by now) and probably many more things that aren't coming to my mind at the moment.

What makes this one so special that it's above and beyond any other Android phone with a Google logo on it?

Genuinely, I don't know. Can someone tell me? It's obviously a big enough difference to warrant a 5 minute advert on the BBC 6 O'Clock News but I really can't see it. Is it purely down to the fact that Google themselves are selling it?

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Certainly

It's being touted as "The Googlephone" because Google are calling it the Google phone. It's not rocket science.

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Nexus specs

When you get your hands on one Reg, can you do an article about the stuff missing from the official specs. I'm thinking about the article you did on the iPhone and Bluetooth keyboards.

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Black Helicopters

Nah

"But Google being able to do this depends on it building that successful web store, and winning a significant slice of the mobile phone market for Android. So shall we just itemise what it has achieved so far?"

No it doesn't -- because you won't need a Google-branded Android phone to be able to lock yourself into Google's Android phone store. I guarantee, they'll very soon allow anyone with an Android phone give up their personal information for the latest game.

All Google needs to do is convince people that they should take the easy way out, let the device figure out how and where to get what they want, and they should just click the big shiny green "yes, i don't care what it costs, give me my new software" button.

And Apple and Amazon and Blackberry have pretty much already done that for them.

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Where's he going with this?

The google store is one phone right now? So is itunes.

You need a google account? You need an apple account to use an iphone too.

You can buy unlocked phones? Of course you can. Except from one particular fruit based manufacturer who sell *locked* phones for more than the cost of the unlocked N1.

The hardware isn't particularly special (although it looks gorgeous, and maybe that'll be the thing that sells it) but it never is in phones.. it sports a reasonable camera, but most other phones have been at 5MP for years... it's just the US smartphone market catching up.

Talk about whether Android offers a nice UI experience vs. OSX or the other way around. Talk about battery life.. talk about things that people care about. Whining that you don't like google therefore apple wins is no argument at all.

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Big Brother

Genius!

Make a (nominally) open source operating system in cooperation with many allies, then piss all over your allies until they abandon android, leaving you with all the advantages of an open source collabarative effort but with none of the pesky disadvantages, such as someone else actually using it and diverting your revenue stream away from the ad machine. Cunning.

Definitely need an EvilGoogle icon.

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Big Brother

Already there

You just used it - Big Brother face = Google - what could be more appropriate?

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Revenue

"such as someone else actually using it and diverting your revenue stream away from the ad machine. Cunning."

That would be the same "someone else" that also has all the Google goodness preinstalled, leading ad revenue to Google perhaps?

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Big Brother

Voice recognition = more data for Google

The much-hyped voice recognition (OK - it's cool) involves server-side processing by the Mountain View crew. That's a lot of data that could be passing through their servers...interesting to see the Ts and Cs on how it will be used.

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Anonymous Coward

What happened to the usual google take on things

and just give the phone away for free. I'm guessing that would make it a tad more popular than the iPhone, Google could probably afford to do so as well.

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no chance

No company can afford to give away something like that for free. Even people who only want a cheap £20 phone would take a free nexus one if that were the case. The losses on it would be immense as hundreds of millions of them were offloaded and generated no revenue.

Shipping them out at cost, maybe, but not for free. Their balance sheet would be destroyed in a matter of hours.

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Pint

Is it a mobile phone?

I prefer the small ones (ie pocket sized, usable, convenient)! Does this new glass pancake brick thingy switch off after 30 seconds if you don't gently stroke (or maybe lick) the screen?

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Dead Vulture

iPhone game changer?

The iPhone? I mean, this crappy hardware (look at the screen resolution! Comes nowhere near the 800x480 I'm used to) and look at the crappy OS (what, no multitasking? No copy/paste until recently?)

The iPhone is also full of USELESS gimmicks, like that multi-touch pinch and rotate. Why would you want to look at a picture under an angle of 23 degrees on such a low-res screen anyway? There is only one way a photo should be shown on a mobile screen, and that is the way it fits best. Why didn't Apple think of that, huh? Because my WinCE PDA already does it for 6 years (on a better screen too, mind you!)

I really don't get how people (including the El Reg Google Bashers) can talk so good of the iphone and come down so hard on Google. I wonder what the real motives are behind this. I'd guess the El reg journalists all have a free iPhone from Apple....

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Pint

Pete, we get it!

You love the Google and hate Apple! Honestly, multitasking is more strawman than MMS! Haven't got a clue where you got "The iPhone is also full of USELESS gimmicks, like that multi-touch pinch and rotate..." from 'cause the iPhone does no such thing! It does pinch to zoom, but rotate? Are you confusing it with Microsoft's Surface? Do us all a favour, stay off the Stella for a bit, there's a good lad.

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Er, no...

You've quite obviously never even used an iPhone. If you had, you'd likely know why people talk so good of it, instead of making embarrassingly incorrect statements probably based on hearsay and irrational hatred.

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Jobs Halo

What I don't understand..

..is why Google chose the same four colours as Microsoft for their logo and then just jogged them round by one place! Now that's just bloody stealing surely?

Anyway balls to Android and Winmob, Apple is all good at the moment. Even my missus who is notoriously hard to please in the Mobile device arena, is extremely impressed with her iPhone 3GS. Android is like Ubuntu, I'll switch to it when it's better than the best all round user experience, which is Mac OS at the moment, by a frigging country mile. I'm not a PC and I'm really happy thanks.

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This post has been deleted by its author

The more "revolutionary" Nexus is the Verizon one that could end up on Sprint

We know that with lack of the right radio, the T-Mobile Nexus One cannot effectively be used on AT&T. And so there only is one carrier for the phone.

But I don't think that's the case for the CDMA phone to be sold for Verizon. I think that same CDMA phone could work just fine and equally effectively on Sprint's network.

So will the CDMA Nexus One be sold unlocked?

Will Sprint activate an unlocked Nexus One phone on their network (and without requiring a contract?)

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To Avoid Diluting the Android Brand

I think Google's main aim with selling a phone is to prevent the Android brand being diluted by many variants of the OS being shipped by many handset manufacturers with varying levels of upgradeability. Think of it as the "official" Android phone.

That is, people can look to Google's Android phone to see what the platform is capable of and what to expect from other handset manufacturers who use Android. It prevents standards slipping across the board and limits the potential for fragmentation of the platform.

In a way, this still leaves Google in (relative) control of the Android platform and makes the handset manufacturers fight it out over pricing, etc. No idea if the plan will work though....

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Paris Hilton

Branded branding anyone?

Come el reg...

With all your experience and (assumed) nounce you can't possibly overlook the importance of branding or brands or can you?

So the google is increasing it's product portfolio and that seems a timely and good strategy.

It also has sufficient clout to influence by doing other than influence by talking.

I'd defintely award the google 10/10 for this initiative and I do own an iPhone.

Maybe with some real or realer competition the Apple can storm ahead with other iPhones in the pipleline?

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FAIL

Customer support

Google can't sensibly move into hardware when their idea of customer support is to provide forums that their employees may or may not respond to on a whim. Even the worst of the Android handset manufacturers, Acer, will reply to your requests (albeit with instructions to call their 60p/min premium support line because their web-based support staff aren't trained to do anything else).

it won't be long before the shouting to starts when people have bought a faulty Nexus One and find there's no way to contact Google to return it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re Customer Support

I thought they'd made it perfectly clear that "WE DID NOT MAKE THIS PHONE M'KAY" and all enquiries should be directed to the High Tech Corp, Taiwan.

Which should be quite a few - even though I'm a HTC fan and my last three phones have been from them, 2 have had to have been replaced within their 12month period and the third failed after about 18months.

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Anonymous Coward

Re

I'm guessing you missed this part of the article?

"You agree that Google is not the manufacturer, but the seller, of the Device. You acknowledge that HTC is the manufacturer of the Device and provides the Limited Warranty for repairs and service of the Device."

It's not rocket science, if your Dell breaks down, do you go crying to Microsoft?

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Boffin

Not rocket science, indeed

No, you go crying to whoever sold you the device, at least in this country.

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Megaphone

HTC might be the manufacturer but....

"You agree that Google is not the manufacturer, but the seller, of the Device. You acknowledge that HTC is the manufacturer of the Device and provides the Limited Warranty for repairs and service of the Device."

...... as has already been said, responsibility for repairs etc. is with the seller in the UK.

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