The safest prediction for 2010 is that the cellular sector will become even more interesting than it is this year. That's quite a statement, since it's been a-thrill-a-minute in 2009.
The certainty that 2010 will surpass this year in excitement was locked in over the past few days as Google's development of a smartphone became a reality. The device, called the Nexus One, is being built by HTC. It has been given out to Google employees for testing and, according to reports, could be available to customers as early as next month.
There are a couple of threads through the early reaction from the news, which was verified, after a fashion, in a short and vague Google posting on Saturday.
The introduction, of course, puts Google firmly in competition with Apple and its iPhone. Competition is building for the iPhone, with the general increase in smartphones in general and Android devices in particular. The iPhone is good, but the new devices-such as the Droid from Motorola-are getting positive reviews and will give it a run for its money. There is no reason to think that the Nexus One won't be a good one as well. The iPhone is an iconic device, but shortcomings -- such as the inability to run more than one app at a time -- make it vulnerable.
Om Malik makes a related point at GigaOm. It's easy to say that devices are based on the Android operating system. The emergence of so many, however, almost certainly leads to fragmentation. This may not mean much to end users-a good phone is a good phone-but is important as developers write applications and vendors seek to have their devices certified on multiple networks. The point is that Google, which was the driving force in the creation of Android, runs a risk if it doesn't have a horse in the race.
It will be interesting to watch how carriers react to the sale of Nexus One. The device, according to reports, will work on GSM networks and will be sold online by Google in an unlocked state. This means that customers will be able to run it on any network for which it is certified. This will be another nail in the coffin for the traditional procedure in which subscribers get heavily subsidized phones in exchange for agreements to long term contracts-- and the source of a lot entertainment for industry watchers.