Google, Samsung Introduce Nexus Phone With New Version of Android Software

Google Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. today unveiled the Nexus S, the first smartphone to use a new version of the Android operating system, providing fresh competition to Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

The new Android, called Gingerbread, is faster and easier to use, and includes copy-and-paste features, Google said on its blog. The Nexus S also comes equipped with front- and rear- facing cameras, potentially allowing for videoconferencing, and near-field communication, a technology that lets people use their phones as mobile wallets and pay for goods wirelessly.

Google, looking to expand beyond its flagship Internet- search business, is pushing deeper into phone software and mobile advertising. The Nexus S follows the Nexus One, a phone manufactured by HTC Corp. that Google introduced earlier this year. That device didn’t sell well, hurt by consumer confusion over who would provide customer support, Google or HTC, said Will Stofega, an analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.

“Hopefully there’s a support structure in place, because last time people didn’t know who to call,” Stofega said. “It’s up to them to demonstrate that they have learned from the past.”

The Nexus S will be available online and at Best Buy Co. retail locations in the U.S., starting after Dec. 16. It costs $199 with a contract, and $529 without one. T-Mobile USA Inc. will provide the service. In the U.K., the phone will be sold at Carphone Warehouse Group Plc and Best Buy after Dec. 20.

Nexus One

The Nexus One, which was unveiled in January, was sold directly to consumers by Google through its online store. Google later shuttered the store after it failed to meet expectations. This time around, Samsung will provide customer support for the Nexus S.

“We co-developed this product with Samsung -- ensuring tight integration of hardware and software to highlight the latest advancements of the Android platform,” Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering, said in the blog post. “Nexus S delivers what we call a ‘pure Google’ experience: unlocked, unfiltered access to the best Google mobile services and the latest and greatest Android releases and updates.”

Google’s Android, now available in more than 100 different models, is activated on more than 200,000 phones a day. The software competes with the iPhone and Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry in the smartphone market.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose $5.36 to $578.36 on the Nasdaq Stock Market at 4 p.m. New York time. The shares have fallen 6.7 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net; Olga Kharif in Portland, Oregon, at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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