Google Nexus One invites – Why?

Monday, December 28, 2009, 5:14 by Tech Correspondent

How to get a Google Nexus One phone invite? The question is already bothering many Nexus One trackers. But why an invite at all? Why not just sell the phone to whoever wants it?

Selling the Google Nexus One by invites only keeps the phone within a small group of people. It is likely that the phone will first be open to the Android developer community, and those who pay for paid Google services on Picasa, Youtube etc. Registered users of Google services like Google Maps for Navigation, Google Earth, Google Chrome and Google Reader may also get priority invites, if and when the Nexus One invites start going out from Mountain View.

When Google started its GMail service, access was available only on invitation. If you had a GMail account, you could invite six more to join GMail. Google at that time said that the quality of the mail users will be better if you send out invites, and the invited few invite more. This may, perhaps, have been attempt by Google to keep the volume of users low until all flaws were fixed. The same invite-only strategy may be deployed at the launch of the Google Nexus One too.

However, the GMail invites created a sort of “black market” for invites. Some of the privileged few auctioned off their invites to the highest bidder, with the price of a single Google Mail invite going up to as high as $200. Later, the number of GMail invites you could send out from your account was increased to 20, and then even more. And finally, Google discontinued the invite-only process for opening a GMail account. Now, anyone can sign up for GMail without being invited by someone. Still, you can invite someone to open a GMail account by just typing his/her email address in the “Invite A Friend” box.

Google adopted the same invite-only strategy with Google Wave, its communication and collaboration platform. On September 30, Google Wave was opened to just 100,000 users globally. Google has expected Wave to be a game-changing platform, but the results so far aren’t that encouraging. Apart from developers, early sign-ins and paying subscribers to Google Apps, only those who got invites from someone could initially use Google Wave. After its launch, Google eased up and became more liberal with invites for the Google Wave.

If Google really decides to have a “soft-launch” of the Nexus One with a small community, it will be a first in the dog-eats-dog world of mobile phones. The number of phones out in the market will be limited, and this gives Google the extra time it requires to fix bugs and fine-tune the product on the go. However, the strategy also runs the risk of being unable to tap into the Nexus One phone frenzy which has built up around the most-awaited mobile phone of this year – and next.