Google reaches out in US and Canada with Nexus One update

Google’s own branded Nexus One is quietly creeping into more carrier partnerships, filling out the long tail by targeting those more obscure North American spectrum frequencies.

On Tuesday, the web giant, which launched the Nexus One in January, announced a second version of the device targeted at the US and Canadian markets. Whereas the initial handset provided 3G connectivity on the 900MHz, AWS, and 2100MHz frequency bands, catering to T-Mobile USA subscribers, the new version support the 850MHz, 1900MHz, and 2100MHz frequency bands and caters to subscribers of AT&T in the US and Rogers Wireless in Canada, and should also work on Canadian networks Telus and Bell too.

Along with the original Nexus One that supports four GSM radio frequencies (850/900/1800/1900) and three 3G bands (2100/AWS/900), the device now provides coverage for most major GSM mobile providers worldwide. It’s also known that a CDMA version is in the works and will be launched on the Verizon Wireless network in the US before too long (it says spring 2010 on the Google website).

There’s no subsidy available on the new Nexus One however, so customers will have to fork out the full $529, whereas T-Mobile USA will sell one on contract for $179, although the US carrier is out of stock at present.

The Nexus One is the first of many Google-branded handsets. Until January of this year, Google had seemed content to let its handset manufacturing partners shoulder the developmental burden, relying on competition between them to generate to drive the most innovation from the Android platform. There were at least 20 Android handsets in the market at the close of 2009 and that number is likely to more than double in 2010. But there is some indication that Google is disappointed with the progress its partners had made.

The argument that pitches open source competition against a closed dictatorship will probably never be satisfactorily answered. But given that Google’s play with Android is all about driving more people to Google’s ever-expanding suite of internet based services and applications, it is perhaps not surprising that the firm should look to exert a little more control than it was able to muster by simply lobbing a new OS into the development arena.

As of Monday morning, Tim Bray, co-founder of web technology XML, worked for Google as developer advocate for the Android platform. And eBay and PayPal executive Stephanie Tilenius recently joined the firm in the newly created position of VP of commerce, taking charge of Google Checkout – an essential part of Google’s Android strategy, as it provides the payments processing platform for Android Market as well as the online retail system for Google’s own-branded handsets.

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