Google's Nexus One bait-and-switch game

Unwary consumers will be stuck with a crummy network and terrible tech support -- and a jaw-dropping $550 fee to escape

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In reality, nothing of the sort has happened. Users still don't have a choice. Here's why:

To begin with, Google's only active carrier partner so far is T-Mobile, which has less coverage than the other major telcos. T-Mobile's network runs on the GSM standard, as does AT&T's, while Verizon and Sprint run on the CDMA standard. Therefore, Verizon and Sprint are out. What about AT&T?

Google/HTC chose to use a radio that does not support AT&T's 3G frequencies; that means a Nexus One running on AT&T's network is reduced to using the snail-like EDGE 2G network, so AT&T is out as well.

Once you realize that the Nexus One is simply a fancy T-Mobile phone, Google's pricing plan makes no sense at all. If you buy the unlocked phone without a contract, it will cost you $529, as opposed to $179 with a two-year contract. The extra $350 buys exactly nothing.

(Verizon is expected to support its own version of the Nexus One later in the year, but it isn't clear if that carrier's version of the Nexus One will support both CDMA and GSM networks or just CDMA.)

No support and a big opt-out fee
I was surprised when I realized how big a hit users will take if they opt out early from a Nexus One contract with T-Mobile. It turns out that the fee is really two fees: $200 from T-Mobile, and another $350 from Google, which calls it an "equipment recovery fee," imposed if you drop out in less than 120 days. You can read Google's terms of service.

T-Mobile's terms of service, also posted on Google's new phone sales Web site, describe its early termination fees. Customers will pay $200 if they cancel with more than 180 days remaining on the contract. T-Mobile also allows a 14-day grace period after customers sign up.

As far as I can tell, the combined hit is the heaviest in the industry. Sure, that seems surprising. But when you think about it, a company that has never sold a phone before, is working with a weak partner, and doesn't offer much tech support for a brand-new device probably expects a lot of customers to get angry and quit. The solution: lock 'em in with a whopping big ETF. Doesn't that sound an awful lot like AT&T?

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This article, "Google's Nexus One bait-and-switch game," was originally published at Follow the latest developments on mobile computing and Google Android at

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