S4 Running Stock Android

Google announced so many things yesterday that it makes my head spin. Goodness all around in Google land.

But there is one thing that really caught my eye. Google will start selling a Galaxy S4 running "stock android" in the Play store on June 26th.

S4 running stock android

When folks ask me what Android phone to buy, I am always torn between the S4 which I believe to be the best Android handset in the market right now and the Nexus 4 which runs stock android but has no LTE support (the phone I currently use).

Now, or at least in a month or so, I will have a good answer. Get the S4 running stock android. If you can afford it. It's $650 unlocked.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Cam MacRae

    $650 unlocked is a bargain. It’s about the same price that Apple sells the superseded iPhone 4S for here inc. tax.Pop in a prepaid sim and you’re done — anywhere in the civilised world (and quite a lot of the uncivilised world too).

    1. fredwilson

      i agree. but a lot of people will have ticker shock on that price because its unsubsidized. i always buy unsubsidized.

      1. gorbachev

        Considering most Americans don’t have enough savings to recover from a $1,000 emergency, I think most people are right.The tech elite, like you, of course has the money to spend, so a $600 here and $1000 there isn’t going to hurt you one bit.

        1. LE

          “Considering most Americans don’t have enough savings”Yeah it’s sad when people who can’t afford things are drawn into buying things because they see what others have. Nothing new there (keeping up with the Jones it used to be called).Mr. Shop keeper has/had a solution to the problem though it was called installment sales.

      2. Cam MacRae

        Me too.I’m experimenting with buying prepaid data only at the mo’.

      3. Fernando Gutierrez

        When buying unsubsidized you pay the phone once. When doing it subsidized you pay it more than once and can’t do everything you want (rooting, unlocking, flashing and that kind of things, at least in theory).

      4. William Mougayar

        Do you sell your one-year phones when you get a new one?

        1. fredwilson

          I save them and use them for single purpose things (TV remotes) and also give then away

          1. William Mougayar

            …or some might end-up on your vintage technoparaphernalia shelve, with the passage of time.

      5. btrautsc

        ideally, we would all buy unsubsidized. But the sticker shock is real. Not to mention, these devices’ value drops quick. Like, from $500+ for a new release iPhone, to $99 (or at one point $1 + plan) from big carriers with one product cycle in between.For consumers (especially cash strapped startup’uppers) dropping $600+ for a phone that will be far surpassed by a new device/ form factor/ etc next year is tough to swallow.

    2. awaldstein

      $650 is a steep price for a phone. Maybe a bargain logically but not an easy purchase for an item that gets dropped, left in cabs, spilled on and is old and useless in a year.Non consumer pricing from any perspective.Google rocks in so many ways. Understanding human behavior and consumer sensibilities is not one of them.

      1. Cam MacRae

        It’s a premium device aimed at people who can count — I reckon they know their consumer pretty well. Agree it won’t fly on the street though.

        1. awaldstein

          People who can count is a market, not the mass market though. Just saying…

      2. LE

        “Understanding human behavior and consumer sensibilities is not one of them.”Agree on that. Flows from the top and has to do with their hiring practices. Assumption that anyone with any ability will test well and score high. They have their own ideas of what intelligence is which flows from the founders academic underpinnings and what they were raised to feel is important. They would have never hired a young Sam Walton or Ray Kroc. But then again they choose the name “android” because it feels good to them.That said they almost certainly have psychologists working there I’m sure. (I’m sure Xerox did also..)

        1. ShanaC

          Yes. They have some in hr I believe.

          1. LE

            Part of what they might be used for in that department is to weed out people with mental problems perhaps before they are hired kinda like a star chamber. Reality tv most likely uses psychologists in the opposite way. They want people who are likely to get easily unhinged because it makes for good TV.

          2. ShanaC

            Actually, they hire these sorts of psychologists:http://venturebeat.com/2011…One of the reasons their offices are the way they are (slides, secret rooms, ect) is they hired industrial.org psychologists to figure out the best environments for people to work in.

      3. Aaron Klein

        That Android will probably show up on a TMobile shelf for $199 under their payment plan.My biggest problem is that these vendors don’t have AppleCare+. I really like being able to pay $50 and get a new phone if I drop and destroy mine.

        1. awaldstein

          ‘drop & destroy’ is our mobile nature.The market will stomach this even at $199. It won’t at $399 and above is my hunch.Bred in retail, I can attest that price points are wired into our psyches. Timeless. Ageless. Still very true.

    3. ShanaC

      We’re uncivilized we’re attached to carriers

      1. Cam MacRae

        The language was no accident 😉

    4. rick gregory

      Same price as an unlocked iPhone 5 in the US. It’s going to be somewhat amusing to watch all of the Google partisans who derided the price of the iPhone as being too high scramble to tell us why this is a great deal.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Ha! Very true. I’ve generally found the price of Apple kit to be on par with equivalent offerings when you do a line by line comparison.

      2. Timothy Meade

        And they can sell them in the Google Store, oh…

  2. Mark Birch

    Best phone I have ever owned is the Nexus S. Best tablet is the Nexus 7. Why? Stock Android is simply superior to any mod version of Android.

  3. John Revay

    I hate it when phone companies install all that junk!Good news

  4. Richard

    I’m sold on Google and plan on getting the phone. Fred, you were ahead of the pack on this one.

  5. JimHirshfield

    Phones are like a crack habit for you, but in a good way, right?

    1. JimHirshfield

      But I have to say, love my Nexus 4. 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      i like to know what is the latest and greatest

      1. JimHirshfield

        Me too. Thx for sharing.

      2. JamesHRH

        Plus, normal behaviour generates …..

  6. Laurent Boncenne

    “Goodness all around in Google land.”not entirely sure about that one though…

    1. William Mougayar

      Part of me agrees with you. They are in so many businesses now, and shown yesterday they can enter anything. Whether they can be successful at all of them is questionable, based on their track record.

      1. awaldstein

        Of all the companies that throw pies against the walls to see what sticks, Google is the best 9or the worst) at it.I will watch the presentations today but I’ve always been a Google tech fan and a non believer that they get the consumer point of view at all, G+ as the best example of this.You think that has changed?

        1. William Mougayar

          No. I doubt all these new products will succeed, including the music one. But they are Google, and they have the bucks to try anything.

          1. awaldstein

            Marketing as try everything that makes logical sense and what works, go for it.Sure, they can do this. Depends whether you are comfortable being a permanent test case as a customer.Sucky way to market is my point. Especially as with their dollars and smarts, they don’t need to to it this way.

      2. Laurent Boncenne

        I wonder what this will lead to….seeing how wide and tied together their product offerings are, this could end up just like MS IE vs Netscape 15 yrs ago… or something completely different I don’t know

    2. Richard

      Beyond the tech, Larry Page seemed to have the confidence and honesty found in great CEOs.

      1. Laurent Boncenne

        I think he’s a great CEO too, there’s no denying here.It’s just it’s not goodness all around given the stupid argument google and microsoft are over the “official” youtube app for windows phone 8 and the attitude google is having…

        1. fredwilson

          Fair point

          1. Laurent Boncenne

            Thanks.Personally what scares me the most about google is their overall vision for the future of technology. It encompasses everything I resent and hate the most about tech and the future of tech.Ads being the least scary thing of the bunch (although I’d hate to live in a world completely surrounded by ads everywhere), It’s Glass and their Self-driving car that I loathe

  7. Richard

    I was really impressed with the new features of Google plus, the auto tagging features for the uploading of photographs. Did anyone catch whether they are releasing an API associated with this feature?

    1. Ken Simpson

      I believe they released that last year. See Images API.

  8. kidmercury

    Google dominated lebron james style yesterday. Hangouts update? Awesome. Especially the mobile messaging component. Google Music? Oh boy. Run for your lives, mass market music services. S4 seems cool as to be expected, though I’m a galaxy note boy myself. Cant wait for the 6.3″ galaxy note III!!!!

    1. William Mougayar

      I liked their live streaming service on YouTube accounts with over 1000 users,- giving competition to Livestream et.al

      1. Timothy Meade

        @wmoug:disqus Hangouts is finally starting to become a cohesive whole, but I have no idea how to see if anybody is actually online from the new app that replaced Talk.And sorry for the confusion, I’m not in Canada at the moment, just planning a couple of short trips from my home in Northeastern Ohio, I would love to see Montreal and particularly check out the tech scene. (I mentioned TO because I had a vague idea where it was)

    2. Nick Grossman

      i am psyched about hangouts too

    3. Lee Blaylock

      Agreed on galaxy note II. I love it mucho

      1. fredwilson

        As does the Gotham Gal

        1. tsella

          I have no numbers on it, but walking the streets in Taipei, Note seems to be hugely successful there.Initially it was amusing to see how people were using it as a camera — then you realize thats what most of the photo shooters on the street are using..

  9. William Mougayar

    “Google announced so many things yesterday that it makes my head spin.”You can say that again. If the incredible variety of announcements is an indication of things to come, it also made me wonder – what kind of company is Google going to become?Jeremiah Owyang had a good synopsis http://www.web-strategist.c… He ends it with this “pithy” conclusion:- For consumers, if you’ve bought into the Google ecosystem, expect the tools and products to get better but know you’re the product.- For brands: If you want to play in Google’s sandbox, you’ll ultimately need to pay.- For Google Competitors: As Google has entered media, any industry is up for grabs; they may be your competitor and just not have announced it yet.

  10. Rohan

    Black t shirt and blue jeans for a product launch. How original.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      That’s the edgy pseudo-indie-rock-star-new-media-hipster-business look. Beige chinos and blue GAP shirt are for the enterprise/legacy WASPs.Whatever, thankfully no bloody MZ-hoodies in evidence! 😉

      1. Cam MacRae

        Death to chambray! Although it seems you need to upgrade to an executive hoodie, Carl: http://www.betabrand.com/na

        1. ShanaC

          I like chambray. It’s comfortable

          1. pointsnfigures

            I think they ought to do something totally different. Seersucker suit.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            We need a Grayson Perry style of CEO/founder. That’d be fun.

          3. ShanaC

            It is really difficult to get a good woman’s suit. Weirdly, it is not something the internet can immediately solve. I know I am starting to pitch soon, and I have no idea where to get a suit that is navy or grey all season wool, let alone seersucker.

          4. Cam MacRae

            Yes, but it’s an enterprisy cliché.

          5. ShanaC

            A woman in a man’s chambray shirt is cliched?

          6. Cam MacRae

            Is she wearing khakis and carrying an OpenWorld satchel? If not, it might be hot.

          7. ShanaC

            No, she wears pencil skirts, jeans, or black leggings and either a vintage coach bag or a vintage men’s oxblood satchel, two rings, earrings, and usually her hair up in a ponytail, a bun, or a french twist. She also most definitely has very distinct red glasses and very curly hair. :)(I actually do wear a lot of vintage men’s collared shirts, including blue chambray, that I stole from my father. And for some reason I tend to wear the with pencil skirts to work and leggings or jeans on the weekend.)

        2. Mark Birch

          The executive hoodie is key to bridging the Silicon Valley to Wall Street gap.

        3. LE

          I liked that idea from the minute I saw the first ad and clicked through. I just don’t know how many units they can sell at those price points.Another thing is that there are small barriers to entry for ideas like this so you can easily be displaced by the next pet rock. Traditional ideas where you actually had to get space at the department or specialty stores are more resilient to competition but harder to crack.I’m not sure that “betabrand” is a good name for a “brand” either. It doesn’t evoke any emotion that will keep people coming back year after year. It’s not tied to a person (Ralph Lauren) or even a mind set “Old Navy”, “Gap”, “Timberland” or essentially invented “Pepsi” (not time to check on the origins of that so if it wasn’t invented substitute one in that slot) etc.Hoodies: These folks are friends of mine and are doing quite well with it:http://www.hoodiepillow.com/The idea was on Shark Tank and they were supposed to do a deal with Robert Herjavic but it got derailed after the 20 page contract arrived.

          1. Cam MacRae

            The travel version looks very comfy. I’m a light traveller though, so it’s not for me.

        4. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Good grief, lol. I will have to get one for the van-driving job that’s been promised me. I’ve found my niche 😉

    2. William Mougayar

      When you move to the valley, you’ll be wearing the same thing 🙂

    3. Tom Labus

      somebody wear a suit please. tie not needed

    4. jason wright

      a blank canvas

    5. Matt A. Myers

      Black top and jeans is easy, non-intrusive to everyone ..

    6. kidmercury

      i don’t think it ever was original. he also showed up with a head, 2 arms and 2 legs to this product launch. that’s not original and never has been.

      1. Rohan

        I was actually making reference to the Steve Jobs-ian dress code. A different color is all I ask for. @TomLabus:disqus @mattamyers:disqus @jasonpwright:disqus @wmoug:disqus @carl_rahn:disqus

        1. kidmercury

          right, i just don’t think jobs is some super creative genius for wearing a black sweater and jeans. i own a black sweater and jeans too. not because i feel the need to imitate $teve, but because it is pretty simple and common attire.

          1. Rohan

            I agree and disagree with you.Agree that wearing a black sweater and jeans is not super creative.Disagree on your overall assertion. He made the black and blue keynote combination his own (im my opinion). I wouldn’t imagine it’s all that hard to pick a different color.

  11. gorbachev

    The thing that really impressed me about what I saw in the keynote was the way Google has built an “ecosystem” to make everything go at 11. It’s truly astounding what Google can build on top of their platform. The way they’ve slowly and surely created the services, the apis and the technologies to enable what we saw in the keynote is the magic sauce.The products and devices to me are just tools that enable easy access to what Google really does.I don’t think there’s a single company out there that can compete with that right now.Additionally the focus on bettering people’s lives seems real, and sincere, and it’s working.I was just thinking yesterday how incredibly easy and powerful ways we now have to surface information…the damn thing can even anticipate the information I need or want without me actually having to do anything about it. And you can do all that with a device that fits in the palm of your hand. It hasn’t been that long ago (or maybe it has), when if you wanted to search for information, you had to sit in a dark backroom and use your library’s or University’s microfilm scanner.I’m excited about what will happen in the next few years. I have a feeling we haven’t seen anything yet.

  12. Michael Librizzi

    One of my personal favorites… Sending money w/ Gmail (US only), it makes it so easy. http://www.huffingtonpost.c

  13. tsella

    This was indeed great news for stock Android die-hards (such as myself, up till last week).There are a few interesting questions, in my mind, with this announcement:What is the driving force behind this decision?Samsung’s reportedly has 95% Android market ownership, NOT INCLUDING S4.So having quoted that number: Are Samsung making Google to use S4 as a reference so the burden of integration with later Android versions is on Google? Are Google giving Samsung another sales channel in return for not pursuing a Bada switch or official Android forking?Are the reported LG ops issues with Nexus 4 forcing Google to add another stock Android vendor? If so, it would also explain why they didn’t go with HTC on this, which also has supply chain issues. It would have been great for us if they did use HTC for this. We need another strong top-of-the-line Android vendor, and HTC may be out if HTC One fails.Is the upcoming X phone from Motorola Mobility M&A being delayed? Will X phone ever see light of day as a consumer product, and not just a proof of concept? Its possible it will be held back so not to hurt other Android vendors, and Google just continues to works with a select party on a good middle-ground-hw-greatly-priced “flagship”.Not to put too much into it, but it still makes me wonder, given that for my Galaxy Nexus I kept 2 spare batteries… Is the choice of S4 vs others also based on it having replaceable battery, while the LG Nexus 4 and HTC One (previous gen and current) are without, and have a crappy battery life?On a last note, I have to say I personally dislike Samsung devices, primarily because of the plastic-y feel. I think they have done a superb job with the Galaxy S, only to completely botch it with Galaxy Nexus (plastics, crap components – specifically subpar NAND, audio CODEC, camera, microphone). Did I mention already it could have been great if they did this offering with HTC instead? 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Great set of questions TomWho has the answers?

      1. Benedict Evans

        There were maybe 160m Androids sold in Q1, of which maybe 50m were in China with no Google services. Samsung supposedly sold about 70m Androids. Total mobile phone unit sales were 420m or so.Another way to look at it: in Q1 Samsung and Apple sold about 30% of all handsets (not just smart), took 70% of revenue and almost all the profits.

        1. PK

          I haven’t ordered a set of phones and tablets from China in a few months. When last I did, all of them came with play store and the usual suite of google apps (play store is the required piece, really, that won’t exist without google authentication, which is base services.)At a guess, most of the phones sold in China come with at least play store and are thus authenticating with Google and are almost certainly using some set of the google apps (Maps, GMail and YouTube at a minimum.)

          1. Benedict Evans

            That’s a good guess but it’s not quite right. Have a look at this Motorola phone from China. No Google services. http://ben-evans.com/benedi…SOME Android phones in China have SOME google services (though some are blocked and others are very slow). But the majority have none.

          2. Timothy Meade

            The only way to “fix” that would be for Google to do Play activation based on a carrier provided serial number such as ESN/IMEI. This is would also imply that all Google applications would fail to function if the device could not be activated.

    2. kenberger

      From attending the S4 launch and following all things Galaxy, 1 thing is clear to me: Samsung made the decision with this model to do what only Apple, Sony, and maybe a few others in the past (Microsoft) can pull off: diverge and build a powerful, common-user-attracting device with proprietary features. It’s a huge opportunity for Samsung to leverage the position they might arguably have at last (given the numbers you cite) and try to go for it and join such ranks.But they also know that by doing this they alienate plenty of industry people, partners, and some users. They can now point to this offering as an attempt to negate this, regardless of how well the device actually sells. Let’s be real: the total volume of this phone will be miniscule as so few mainstream folks have any understand let alone need for what this variant offers. So this is largely a political offering.

    3. Elia Freedman

      I believe that both Google and Apple would like to break the carriers of their hold over device sales. This won’t do it by itself but I am certain this is part of the strategy.

      1. Timothy Meade

        One way might be a Smart Devices Manufactures Association, including Apple, Google, Microsoft’s partners, and Android OEMs.They could bargain on things like a Smart Device Users Bill of Rights, which would ensure that users can choose what software is installed on their device and other things.The carriers did an end-run on the FCC by redefining what an “application” is to something akin to voicemail, and conflating end user equipment software with their network infrastructure.The FCC did nothing to enforce their own rules, and the carriers found other ways around them such as swapping spectrum to get out of the bands with enhanced restrictions.By all accounts, LTE should have resulted in full interoperability, but in reality things are just as fragmented as they always were. Devices are still locked to carrier and the SIM is an illusion. (Due to 4G radios supporting non-SIM based standards, in particular Verizon’s implementation of LTE using CDMA voice.

        1. Elia Freedman

          I agree in theory but these kinds of industry trade associations among competitors never seem to work. And all of them have a vested interest (to varying degrees) to not piss off the carriers.

    4. Fernando Gutierrez

      I tried a Nexus 4 for a few days and loved it, but you can’t replace battery. I agree that being able to do it is key, at least for me. The day we get amazing batteries that don’t decline fast after a few months I’ll consider buying a sealed phone, but until then I’ll stick with ugly plastic ones that let me have a few of them near.

    5. PK

      I’m trying to imagine how Samsung would succeed at either an Android (a *serious* fork, meaning they actually break things and don’t follow along, of which we do not currently have a good example – even the Kindle Fire is annoying mostly because it is a slow-to-update version of Android.)Assuming they do fork, they lose access to Maps and Now. Even Apple couldn’t do very well without Maps, and Google is improving Maps at a furious rate, so I’d think this would be a stopper. Now, if you haven’t lived with it for a while, is more subtle. If you forced me to choose between Maps and now on my phone, I’d be hard pressed to pick one. Now sort of depends on Maps, so it’s a bit artificial, but w/o that, I might choose now. It’s that good.Of course, they’d also lose access to the play store. That’s a serious problem in and of itself.Don’t see Samsung doing a thing with Bada, or Google caring if they tried. A fork might be a bit worse, but a fork gets solved by improving the base, yes? At this point, Samsung has very little to gain with forking the base OS, a lot of cost to pick up. If they do not fork, they can innovate on top of the base (as they have done, very successfully, with the GS3 and now the GS4.)Just don’t see that happening either.It’s important to note that the base Google services have been refactored over the last few years. Now you can start with just a very thin shim of google on your phone, basically enough to run the play store and get access to the apps, and the rest just installs as needed. So if the OEMs include the shim, which means if the OEMs want apps, the rest just sort of comes along as the user requests it. Since the rest includes a suite of apps (gmail, youtube, now, maps) that pretty much everyone does want…

      1. Timothy Meade

        Perhaps they could acquire the maps unit from Nokia.

        1. tsella

          That would really piss off Microsoft IMO :)They can offer Waze a bunch of monies or TomTom, Garmin, etc. all the guys that pretty much lost their GPS business to phones.

      2. tsella

        I agree 100% :)Maps I think is solvable. Now & Gmail are key. YouTube I am not sure its under the same gapps license.Play is not a big issue. Samsung has their store on every device, and it ones the market place. I don’t think they would have any trouble reminding devs they should post to their store.I think Samsung would still threaten, if needed, they would fork just because they have a hold on the marketplace.

    6. Timothy Meade

      Sorry don’t have all the answers here, but…Each major generation of Android has had a reference product to go along with it, 1.x with G1, early 2.x with the Snapdragon HTCs (Include the Nexus One). 3.x had the Motorola tablets and 4.x brought the two themes together but only now is shipping on widely available handsets from the carriers.Google would seem to prefer that carriers ship stock Android systems, with Google Play added of course. (And support Hangouts Video and Google Maps too, but carriers have other ideas.)While the original Nexus One was a basic HTC design with stock Android, the Galaxy Nexus seems to have been specifically spec’d for compatibility with upstream Linux and having more open firmware drivers. It’s SoC was a generation behind the flagship Galaxy devices at that time. It also featured an open bootloader (by Android device standards, which would have been more difficult on a more secure SoC platform. (My understanding is OMAP4 was chosen for being an open platform for Linux devices which the exception of a couple drivers for 3D and video playback. The design also allowed them to chose an independent MSM chip for the RF functions which allowed the early bootloader to be open.)I’m not sure where the LG devices fit in, but they are not on par with the Samsung or HTC Nexus devices and Google has gone towards a provider with more sane ID and device firmware.

  14. kenberger

    …or if you’re a bit brave technically (it’s not very difficult), just get the T-mobile S4 *today*, root and load Cyanogenmod on it. You can do that right now as the Tmo (and Sprint) versions ship with unlocked bootloaders. Or do this with the Note 2 (which I still prefer) on all 4 carriers.Cyanogenmod is a customized OS that’s fabulous and very user friendly even for the masses. “Prompt system updates” are MUCH prompter than they are w/ the Nexus line. And as a bonus, it wipes clean all the carrier and manufacturer bloatware and less useful features. Perfectly legal, though it can break your warranty.I’m reluctant to really embrace the S4 because Samsung has jumped off the tracks with the multitude of features that diverge from Android. I’ve turned off just about all of them on my demo unit, as they’re disappointing and aren’t consistent across apps. Only the updated camera features are useful; this could be made into a separate app you can load after wiping with Cyanogenmod.

    1. fredwilson

      I have done that but it is not mainstream and I am not sure it ever will be

      1. kenberger

        i know *you* know 😉 Yes it absolutely is not mainstream and CAN’T ever be– if it does, it will likely cease being possible.

        1. tsella

          I agree it won’t. For different reasons though. There is little incentive on Android platform.Little incentive to move to a non-stock unless you are on an end-of-life hardware and want more up to date Android, and little incentive to make the installation process simpler because not enough people want to move.You can do SO MUCH on an unrooted devices. Fred gave the example of the launcher in a previous post.Cyanogen and others do not come with Gapps – sure, its an apk away, but it is a deterant for the uninitiated.And, alas, there is the piracy factor. Pirating on Android is easy. I oppose DRM, but its TOO DARN EASY. On iOS you need to Jailbreak to pirate. On Android you don’t.

          1. kenberger

            Yes, I meant “And if it does”…Greater than 99% don’t give a toss about this stuff or having a stock phone. But it’s smart of Android/Google to let innovators run with the open source.

    2. tsella

      I wholeheartedly agree with that last sentence. The only value I find in both Samsung Touchwiz and HTC Sense is the added camera functionality.Well.. almost.. I also like how HTC integrated DLNA in Sense 5.0. This should be standard in Android.Re the rest, while I would be inclined to do the same (waiting for Cyanogen for HTC One now..), its not mass market, yet. It may become some day, judging by how many are jailbreaking iOS, but not just yet.

  15. Mordy Kaplinsky

    I wish it was the HTC One that was getting the stock Android treatment.

    1. fredwilson

      i have heard that from a bunch of people

    2. Timothy Meade

      Or the “Google Acquisition” treatment.

      1. Mordy Kaplinsky

        Unfortunately Its a bad fit because of the 3 main HTC characteristics:IP: HTC is and has historically been an ODM shop making hardware for others operating systems, so they lack significant IP of value in the smartphone wars. This is why they were the first to get hit with the IP lawsuits and licensing deals.Design: While HTC has IMHO been the leader in Android device design going back to to the original Nexus and now with the ONE. Buying a device designer without any IP justification would kill the Android ecosystem, if the partners haven’t already been finicky about the Motorola acquisition.Advanced specs and components: Historically HTC designed hardware with specs that were ahead of the curve even if it caused them to be cray clunky i.e. TYTN/Tilt. Unfortunately today’s supply chain is very different in that they need the resources to acquire components or their inventing companies ahead of others , both are areas in which Apple and Samsung are way ahead of the curve.In short unfortunately for HTC I think everything is working against them for an acquisition by Google. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t be a good fit for an HP, Dell or somebody else.

        1. Timothy Meade

          Maybe, but I think the IP thing was such a small fig-leaf for the Motorola deal that it might be irrelevant to the considerations this time. Even more so after it’s primary purpose was found to be moot.I get what your saying with licensing, the payments to Microsoft is what will kill the independent Android ecosystem faster than anything else.But, I can see a couple of upsides as well:They can position HTC as the entry level Android device, quality, consistency, lower price. If a lower cost iPhone ever emerges this might be a helpful tool to have.Another possibility is combining the ODM talent of HTC and the carrier relationships, marketing of Motorola. The Samsung devices might be the top of the heap and on par with iPhone for marketshare, but Verizon is still selling Droid-branded Motorola handsets to consumers who don’t do enough research.Oh HP/Dell, they wouldn’t keep the unit intact for more than six months. HTC outlived Axim and iPaq (most of which it manufactured), and of course Palm.You’re talking about two IT services companies that want to be CDW + software, one of which is also a printer company.

          1. Mordy Kaplinsky

            The IT argument is I think moot because they went in for the IP, and although it turned out to be a bad proposition it doesn’t change the reasoning behind the acquisition.The entry level idea would kind of defeat the value of HP which designs high quality devices, and what’s more there are hundreds of entry level Android devices like those based on Mediatek chipsets, although they are largely an Asian phenomenon. What’s more if Android wanted to encourage cheap devices all they need to do is partner with Foxconn, Pegatron or any other of the cheap Shenzen ODM companies.Your observations however about HP and Dell however are spot on IMO, although one would hope that they learned from their mistakes in the mobile/tablet space.

          2. tsella

            While I appreciate and agree very much with your statements on HTC, background, and so forth, I do want to offer another angle. HTC, unlike most (not all, just most) ODMs, knows how to make software. Not (only) bring-up and system level. Consumer grade software, arguably great. They do social, they do UI, they do UX.ANDThey make great hardware. Not just top of the line hardware. Great hardware, with some very aggressive decisions, and not at the comfort of being top dog, but rather from a being cornered position. Consider coming up with UltraPixel where the consumer is just talking mega pixel, new manufacturing processes like the One S, the speakers on the One.If One is not a huge success (I am not one to believe in miracles), and HTC business is at risk, I think it would be a good match for Google – IF I disregard the geographic limitation. Not an IP play, a capable engineering play.I hope its not an HP/Dell. It would be coloring HTC blue and throwing it into the ocean. Complete loss.

          3. Mordy Kaplinsky

            Tom, Aside for the lack of IP issue I agree with all your statements about HTC and I think anyone acquiring them would be lucky to have them, but the fit with Google is what I question. Personally I’ve had quite a few of their phones and I hope to see them or any potential acquirer taking advantage of their strengths and continue leading the high quality side of Android.

    3. Ricardo Diz

      Totally agree. I’m surprised with all the attention on the S4, when the HTC One looks so much better! It does show the brand awareness that Samsung created already

      1. Mordy Kaplinsky

        The miracles of marketing and deep pockets 🙂

        1. Ricardo Diz


  16. Benedict Evans

    Which phone you get partly depends on what you’re trying to achieve. This will give you a nice experience (though personally I think the HTC One is nicer hardware). But it’s not what most people will ever experience.’Stock Android’ is a tiny tiny niche, especially at $650. Even CynogenMod probably has under 10m users. There are probably more people using Windows Phone than stock Android (yes, really). This is not what ‘Android’ is to the vast majority of the world. Android phones average about $250-300 (pre subsidy) across the total market and they come at least one revision behind the latest OS. The hot price point in China is RMB1000 ($160), with no subsidy, and Spreadtrum is talking about 2G Android falling to $30 wholesale this year.So, Marissa Mayer supposedly refused to get home broadband until the majority of the population had it, so that she understood the experience of an actual Google user. Buying this is like buying a Tesla – lovely car, but make sure you remember most people are driving something else.

    1. tsella

      Cyanogen is at 5mm units, source http://stats.cyanogenmod.com/Re price point, Nexus 4 (and Nexus 7) issue was alleviated, hasn’t it? I am not sure that’s key though. At least, not solely. Its about distribution and advertising, and Google does not do that much for its flagship phones.I think there was some change in that respect with regards to Nexus 7, which I assume a) Google knew the carriers would not push as much as they do phones; b) Reportedly Google took over an existing Asus project and made it their own in order to have a flagship tablet, and possibly that whole GameStop deal was already inked; c) Google wanted a significant Android tablet play, and there was none to be found at that point.

      1. Benedict Evans

        Yes, but you can turn off stats reporting for CyanogenMod and many do. So probably more than 5m.

    2. ShanaC

      But, eventually they will be driving a tesla without all the chrome. It will be an electric car that performs well.Same with phones

    3. LE

      “So, Marissa Mayer supposedly refused to get home broadband”I refused to read any tips on doing searches so I could do a search as regular people did a search without knowing any more than was intuitive.

  17. Deepak Gupta

    Here my theory: Google didn’t announce any new Nexus device in this I/O event. So S4 Running Stock Android may just be a strategy to wade time while a new Nexus phone is under works at Motorola.

    1. tsella

      Strategy or forced into it? (see my comment from earlier)

      1. Deepak Gupta

        Interesting points, Tom. Don’t see Google killing the Nexus line, so having more than one phone running stock Android might be the way forward for them.

        1. tsella

          For sure not killing it. Its their best path forward to set the standards and have the easiest way to marry software and hardware for others to follow.

  18. markslater

    fred i have to tell you – and i am absolutely NOT an apple fan-boy….i have been running around like mr important with 2 phones for about 6 weeks now as an experiment. Firstly it was about our app on both platforms but for me it was about the overall usability of both phone systems – and i hate to say it because i am definitely on the open side of the open/closed argument – the iphone 5 is so superior in so many ways, its not actually close.i know you wont change – and for good reason, but its really an amazing design up and down its own little OSI stack.

    1. Aaron Klein

      Which Android device and OS version? Just curious.

      1. markslater

        S3 running android 4.1.1

    2. Chris Phenner

      I smiled at the ‘Mr. Important’ remark. When I was at Thumbplay and we had apps across Android, BlackBerry & iOS, I carried all three devices on my person every day, so I could ’empathize’ with anyone with whom I spoke, and show them our app in the context of his OS.And as a current iPhone 5 user, I agree it just destroys. And I am having a harder time with ‘Android Stubbornness,’ and what kind of ‘independence streak’ carrying an Android device services for some folks.

    3. fredwilson

      i know a ton of people who feel the same way you do. but for me, the google apps on android are so superior that they android device becomes superior for me.

      1. george

        Have to agree with Mark! Also, if you just read through most of the comments, droid is about compromising, right?

      2. tsella

        Agree 100%, which is also why I think Samsung officially forking Android will not happen. They will continue to signal in any way they can that they would (like not mentioning Android at all, or by building a cadre of “competing” apps), but they won’t.By the way, I would think that if Samsung were serious about it, it would be them offering Waze a cool B, not Facebook.

    4. Ricardo Diz

      Way to go! I think most people just chooses a platform without really considering both, and then defend their choice with little info :)I do prefer Apple’s interface as well.

  19. ShanaC

    I’m still upset. I’m on sprint and there hasn’t been a phone with stock android in forever. And I don’t know what to do. If google wants everyone to be excited about getting not messed up android, they need to stop letting only some carriers have tech.

  20. jason wright

    i’m sticking with my Nokia 100 for now.cheap is smart, non?

  21. Tony Alva

    Dude, Any phone without LTE service is a weak and worthless dinosaur.

    1. fredwilson

      you are right but i have to have stock android

    2. tsella

      I would actually challenge that. Unless you are using your phone as a tethering device, and need to download something to your laptop, why is LTE so cardinal? What’s wrong with HSDPA? How is that a limiting factor in using Google, Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Google Maps (or Waze) or reading AVC on your phone?Trust me, I get instant gratification. I WANT (vs NEED, a difference I often need to explain to my pampered offsprings) the best, fastest, newest acronym and gadget in town. But how does LTE make HSDPA or even 3G , ON A PHONE, no less, worthless?

  22. Phil M

    Looks like I’ll be jumping off the iOS ship this summer, but the lack of 32GB or 64GB models is frustrating. This seems like a move targeted at savvy power users, on Google’s part, but how many power users will be satisfied with just 16GB? (Yes, I know there is a MicroSD slot, but it’s still too limiting.)

  23. falicon

    You know the coolest thing about both of those phones (and all the other Android ones) is that they can now have the gawk.it app installed as well :-)Available via Google Play at http://goo.gl/l8zTu and the Amazon app store at http://goo.gl/ABbrq (iPhone is still pending approval by ‘the man’).If you install the app, you can of course search AVC (and the other blogs that use gawk.it to power their search)…but even more exciting is that you can get a quick overview for the day of where and what the active conversations around tech. are (the daily AVC post usually ranks pretty high in the overall list).Anyway – check it out and of course let me know what you think (rate & review if possible)…and that’s it for my shameless plug of the day! 😉

    1. William Mougayar

      Congrats. I will download now on my android that i need to charge first since i only use it to test apps that don’t exist on the iphone :)Why don’t you add these links on your landing page with the respective download icons?

      1. falicon

        Cool thanks – I will update the site with the icons and links once it gets into all the stores…just put it out actually, and only mentioned it here today because the general topic gave the opening.Keep in mind it’s a bare-bones v1 and I’m hoping to evolve it quite a bit over time (and based on the feedback/usage from users like you — so be verbal!) 😉

    2. awaldstein


    3. Dave Pinsen

      Cool. Will download the iOS version when it gets approved. Also, still owe you dinner thanks to last year’s sub-par Giants season. Let me know via email when you want to cash in.

      1. falicon

        Oh yeah – I *almost* forgot about that little bet! Among the many other things I always have going on, I’m coaching one kid’s track team and the other’s baseball team right now…both seasons end at the end of this month, so my schedule opens up a ton starting in June and I’ll be starving by then…so will try to collect from you about that time I think. Thanks!

        1. Dave Pinsen

          OK, sounds good.

    4. ShanaC


    5. kidmercury


    6. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Shameless??? you should be really proud of being a great example of DIY.Congratulations and good luck.

    7. Techman

      Well played 🙂

    8. schiffbruechige

      “This app is not compatible with your device” (Its a 10in 4.0 tablet..)

      1. falicon

        Sorry – next release (due out in a week or two) will support tablets.

  24. LE

    “Nexus 4 which runs stock android but has no LTE support (the phone I currently use).”Back in the day guys in the neighborhood used to talk like this about cars and modifying cars. Most people though didn’t care (especially the girls guys were trying to impress) and all that petered out. Other than in some lower income neighborhood I don’t believe anyone does any car modifications anymore. It used to be a middle class thing.In fact young people don’t even care about cars anymore. (Recent NY Times story talks about this).http://www.nytimes.com/2013

  25. Matt A. Myers

    My Nexus last week unfortunately flew out of my backpack – I was excited and just picked it up very quickly, and at the right angle – and the phone flew out of the inside pocket (with a flap over it) … and well, falling from 5-6 feet with some initial force didn’t end well; It’ll cost $184 plus tax, cheapest I could find, to replace the screen. It still works, so I’ll probably just see how long it lasts … good to know there will be other unlocked phones available in future, which will be coming down in price.

  26. Dave Pinsen

    That’s got more memory than my first desktop computer, a 1996 Gateway 2000.

  27. Barry Nolan

    Jeez. I bet Google would love to have their own mobile division instead of re-selling Samsung.

    1. george

      They do, it’s called Motorola Mobile…

    2. tsella

      I would actually have to wonder about that. Google is not a hardware business at heart. Sure, it may casually build something, but I its more a means to an end than anything else. Unlike Apple, I don’t think you’ll see Google’s bottom line ever affected by profit on hardware. If they have a chance for a margin, they would, I believe, chop it and sell the hardware as cheap as they can.Mobility is a patent play IMO, and maybe get some talent on board for doing future looking stuff, or for improving current designs — again, means to an end. Get the best bang for the buck on entry level, get the best tech/key innovation on high end.

      1. Barry Nolan

        Hey Tom. Was being ironic (badly). They spend billions on their own mobile device company, and give their No1 competitors phones away.

  28. Runit Kumar

    Fred, I just had to make this decision but it was far too difficult for me to wait until June 26th to get my new toy. The Galaxy S4 is PHENOMENAL (much better than the Nexus 4 imo), and I really don’t mind Samsung’s version of Android. Yes, there a few apps that I could definitely do without, but it’s not a complete hindrance.

  29. kenberger

    largely depends on where you tend to live or travel– your house in Vermont or New Mexico might only respond to 1 of the big 4.also depends on how much you value data vs voice. I do cell calls very rarely, but live by mobile data. AND I use voip services (OnSip) for all of my voice calls, which going over only the data part anyway. This blog has had conversations about data-only SIMs– I really ignore the voice channels of my mobile phones.In the US major cities, T-mo’s HSPA+/AWS mobile broadband works impressively fast *IF* you have the right device or know how to unlock their power (via android hacks). Tmo is just now also rolling out LTE (faster still). Not nearly as dense or fast as ATT right now. But I also like to get pay-as-you-go SIMs with no contract, and only Tmo offers this (so I’m left using a tmo sim in an att phone).

  30. kidmercury

    the concept of obsolescence is obsolete. it just becomes vintage fashion instead.