Galaxy Nexus: Better Late Than Never
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus finally arrived on U.S. store shelves Thursday. The third phone in the Nexus line officially ushers in Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of the Android OS. The launch's timing, though, is unusual: It hits shelves right in the thick of holiday shopping season, and its main competitors, like the Motorola Razr and Apple iPhone, have been selling fast and furious since November.
Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, the first phone to run Android Ice Cream Sandwich, will be available in the U.S. starting Thursday from Verizon.
The 4G LTE phone sells for US$299.99 with a two-year plan. There are 2GB, 5GB and 10GB data plans starting at $30, although for a limited time through the holidays customers can get double data for the same monthly fee if they subscribe to a 4G data plan. Customers who want to use the LTE connection as a mobile hotspot will pay an extra $20 per month.
The phone packs a relatively massive 4.65 inch screen, compared to the 3.5-inch display found on an iPhone. It's also thinner at 8.94 mm.
The device launched in Hong Kong and Europe three weeks ago and Wednesday in Australia.
Why Here? Why Now?
The timing of the phone's U.S. launch puts it on sale right in the thick of holiday shopping madness -- or perhaps even a little after the madness has peaked.
Although Verizon hadn't previously set a fixed date for the U.S. arrival of the Galaxy Nexus, a Phandroid report suggests the launch was held up due to Google Wallet, the company's new mobile payment system. Verizon, which is among several backers of a competing mobile payment system called ISIS, asked Google not to include the feature in the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus.
Google complied with the request, but there's suspicion that negotiations on the matter delayed the phone's launch.
Verizon didn't respond to our request for further comment.
What's more, retailers have been offering deals on other Android phones since Black Friday, and Apple's still relatively new iPhone 4S has drawn a great deal of buyer attention as well.
"Verizon is releasing a bunch of new phones, so I think they would prefer to have them in stores for Black Friday, but they'll deal with what they're given, and we're still in the height of the selling season," John Hodulik, analyst at UBS Equities, told the E-Commerce Times.
The Galaxy Nexus represents the third phone in the Nexus line, a variety of phones that contain a pure and unmodified version of the latest version of Android. Nexus phones are often popular among developers and those who follow Android closely. Those buyers might still be holding out for the buzzed-about Nexus despite the late date, according to John Feland, CEO and founder of Argus Insights.
"The late launch is less of an issue for Samsung as the phone would target more early adopters that would have waited for the Galaxy Nexus to be launched anyway. The RAZR invokes nostalgic brand appeal to the broader market and launching on Android 2.3 means users will have a more stable experience," he told the E-Commerce Times.
Lots of Competition in Saturated Market
Early reviews of the phone in the European market have been mostly positive. Many early users have lauded the phone's large screen and sleek feel. Though there's been some hype leading up to the Nexus launch, it will still have to compete in a market full of new Android releases.
"Motorola has already aggressively grabbed mindshare with the Razr, showing that thin is in again, and it will be hard for Samsung to grab it back, especially with the branding challenges Samsung has had with Galaxy in the past," said Feland.
Verizon aims to highlight what makes the handset distinct -- its thinness and the Ice Cream Sandwich platform -- to make sure it stands out against other competitors.
"We're seeing equal buzz around both the Razr and Galaxy Nexus. Both are competing for the top spot at Verizon right now at the same price with two-year contract. Since the Galaxy Nexus is the first phone at Verizon with Ice Cream Sandwich, it is going to be the phone for early adopters, even though the Razr has promised to be upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich when it's been fully tested," said Feland.