Google Has Triplets
Four. Seven. Ten.
The Android army was expecting a major product announcement on Monday from Google (NAS: GOOG) . Unfortunately, the official press event was rained out by Hurricane Sandy, and the search giant decided to cancel its event, which was to take place in New York. Instead of a live event, Google has announced its new Nexus lineup via its official blog. Say hello to the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10.
All three run the newest version of Android, 4.2, which is a slightly "new flavor" of Jelly Bean and not a new major version such as the next alphabetic dessert progression, Key Lime Pie. These were largely expected, but let's check out the official details.
The new flagship Android phone is built by LG and features a quad-core Qualcomm (NAS: QCOM) Snapdragon S4 processor and a 4.7-inch display. The display panel will sport a resolution of 1280 x 768 at a pixel density of 320 pixels per inch, or ppi. That's notable because it's right up next to Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPhone and its 326 ppi. The device will also feature wireless charging, unlike the iPhone.
Those are worthy specs, but perhaps the most interesting things about this new device are what it doesn't have: contract subsidies (mostly) and 4G LTE. To be sure, these omissions are certainly related, but let's look at pricing first. An 8 GB model, unlocked and off contract, goes for $299 starting in November. An extra $50 will boost internal storage up to 16 GB. T-Mobile will be the only domestic carrier and is offering the upper-end model for $199 on contract (implying approximately a $150 subsidy), but it's clear that Google is primarily going for off-contract, unsubsidized sales abroad, here.
Of course, mobile historians will remember that Apple once tried to shake the boat and disrupt the subsidy model in the smartphone market with the original unsubsidized iPhone. It took only one year for Apple to see the error of its ways and adopt the subsidy model with the subsequent iPhone 3G. The big difference here is that the iPhone started at $499 with a contract, much higher than the $299 Nexus 4 without a contract.
The Nexus 4 is a GSM device that will work with 3G and HSPA+ networks all over the world, so it seems the search giant is positioning this as a world phone, launching in 7 countries. At the same time, it needs to keep costs down so it can reach reasonable unsubsidized prices, essentially killing any hopes of LTE support, which adds substantial engineering costs, technical complexities with frequency compatibilities, and politics of carrier negotiations.
Google was only interested in building one model (unlike the three different iPhone 5 variants) that could reach as many users around the world as possible, while reducing carriers' roles in the process. Sadly, that means no LTE for the Nexus 4.
The Nexus 7 that was launched this summer is seeing some incremental upgrades as well. Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) one-upped Google in September by offering more storage in its Kindle Fire HD at the same price points. Google is calling that raise and reraising by adding a new 3G mobile data option on the 32 GB model.
16 GB / 32 GB
$199 / $249
3G HSPA+, add $50 (32 GB model only)
Kindle Fire HD 7"
16 GB / 32 GB
$199 / $249
16 GB / 32 GB / 64 GB
$329 / $429 / $529
4G LTE, add $130
Remember that the Kindle Fire HD is also ad-supported, and it takes a $15 fee to remove them, so in a way, the Nexus 7 is slightly cheaper if you compare them without any subsidies.
Google has tapped Samsung for the Nexus 10, a full-sized tablet aimed at both the iPad and Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) new Surface. The 10-inch tablet is beating the iPad in one of its most important categories: the display. At 2560 x 1600, the tablet has as many pixels as Apple's freshly unveiled 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display packed into a panel only marginally larger than the 9.7-inch iPad.
Google is even taking a page out of Apple's superlative marketing playbook, billing it as "the world's highest resolution tablet display." The Nexus 10 also tops the iPad in pixel density. In fact, the tablet also beats Apple in two other areas that Cupertino values highly, being thinner and lighter than the iPad.
Here's how the displays of the top four contenders in the full-sized tablet market stack up.
2560 x 1600
iPad with Retina display
2048 x 1536
Kindle Fire HD 8.9"
1920 x 1200
1366 x 768
Big G is smartly undercutting the iPad by $100, which greatly increases its chances of success when combined with the impressive display.
Overall, this is an impressive lineup that was just announced. The Nexus 4 is the weakest link as its clearly not geared toward the domestic market. It's not supported on the three largest domestic carriers, and it lacks a key feature (LTE) that's become par for the smartphone course. However, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are strong offerings at a time when tablets will stuff many a stocking in the immediate future.
Should Apple investors be scared of Google's new Nexus lineup? iPad unit sales fell short of expectations last quarter, and the tablet market is one of the most promising opportunities for the company in the years ahead. The Nexus tablets could be a major threat, so investors should read up all about the iPad opportunity in our new Apple research service. Get started by clicking here.
The article Google Has Triplets originally appeared on Fool.com.Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Qualcomm and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.