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Google Takes On Apple As It Unveils First Mobile Phone

Google's Mario Queiroz holds up the Nexus One smartphone at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
The Internet search giant Google has unveiled its first own-brand mobile phone, the Nexus One.

Mario Queiroz, Google's vice president of product management, unveiled the company's much anticipated "smartphone" at Google's California headquarters.

The phone marks the first time that the Internet search giant has designed and sold a consumer electronics device bearing its well-known brand.

The Nexus One uses Google's Android operating system, features a touch-screen display, and is lightweight (130 grams) and only 11.5 millimeters thick.

It also has voice-recognition technology that allows users to compose e-mails by speaking.

Queiroz called it a "superphone."

"The dictionary definition of 'nexus' is that it is a point of convergence, a means of connection, and Nexus One is where web meets phone," he said.

"The Nexus One is an exemplar of what's possible on mobile phones through Android."

Taking On The iPhone

The device, sold through Google's online store, could give the company a competitor to Apple's popular iPhone.

But the Nexus One has some way to catch up -- 30 million of the Apple handsets have been sold in the last couple of years, and demand is still growing.

The price of Google's phone is also relatively high -- although the Nexus One starts at $179 with a contract in the United States, that price goes up to $529 without ties to a telecom provider.

Caroline McCarthy, a staff writer for technology website, says asking customers to pay more so they can select their own wireless carriers could actually be an advantage for Google.

That's because the main U.S. providers are currently engaged in a tough and highly visible war of words about who has the best or worst coverage or reception.

"If Google manages to put forth a marketing message that it is above all of these petty skirmishes and silly back-and-forth and stuff about dropped calls and [instead has a message about] giving people choice," McCarthy says, "I think that that will have the same sort of success that, say, a politician would have in saying that he or she was above all the attack ads that all the opponents were putting out."

The Nexus One is also aimed at protecting Google's online advertising business.

Google sells more than $20 billion in advertising each year, most of them tied to Internet searches.

But more and more people are going online using smartphones instead of computers -- and that could reduce the need to use search engines like Google.

Google says the Nexus One is designed to work with a variety of telecom carrier networks, and that devices linked to Vodafone in Europe should be available by spring.

compiled from agency reports