With Nexus One release, another Google business is born

The Nexus One, released Tuesday, is dubbed a "superphone" by Google, and while revolutionary, what's really new is the way Google's selling it.

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    HTC CEO Peter Chou holds the Google Nexus One phone during a news conference at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Tuesday.
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Voice-enabled text fields; a multicolor, status-aware scroll ball; stereo bluetooth; talking GPS; and slim-as-a-pencil, light-as-a-pocketknife specs – the Nexus One from Google and HTC is enough to make a fanboy's head spin.

But before users can waste a weekend plying every inch of the Nexus One's OS and its myriad features, they've got to get it in their hands. And, as is its habit, Google has expanded its business, opening an online store at google.com/phone to sell the Nexus One and its future Android siblings directly to consumers.

At a reporters-only event held Tuesday afternoon at its Mountain View, Calif., campus, Google hammered home its desire to keep the Nexus One experience "pure and simple." The company said it wanted to get the latest Android technology to the consumer as quickly as possible. That means that from sign-up to activation to shipping, the consumer is dealing directly with Google.

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But Google, unlike wireless providers such as T-Mobile, Vodaphone, and Verizon – the networks that the Nexus One will work on at first – doesn't have retail stores in which to hawk its wares. In that, Nexus One buyers face a daunting lack of in-person "touchability," especially for something as personal as a cellphone (or, fine, superphone). Google answers those concerns with a slick Web store that offers lots of zooming, a virtual interactive home screen complete with apps, even customizable hand modeling so a potential buyer can estimate the phone's heft in his paw.

Will that be enough?

A panel of Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha; HTC CEO Peter Chou; Google Mobile Chief Andy Rubin; and Mario Quieroz, vice president of product management for Google, in defending the plan, also allowed for the "hey, can I see your phone?" model. Get enough of them out there, and the Nexus One will sell itself, the message seems to be.

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What's your take? Are you happy to purchase a phone without holding it in your hand first? Is an interactive Website enough? Would you stop someone on the street to ask to see their Nexus One? Leave a comment below, and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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