Google faces PR struggle as it launches smartphone Nexus One

Comms professionals have warned Google that it faces a tough PR battle after the internet giant launched its first smartphone, placing Google in direct competition with Apple's iconic iPhone.

Launch: Google's Nexus One smartphone
Launch: Google's Nexus One smartphone

Google launched its Nexus One smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in the US. The phone uses Google's existing Android mobile operating system, but debuted to a lukewarm reception from analysts.

'Google still has a lot to prove,' said Ruder Finn corporate and tech director David Millar, who previously headed UK comms at Apple.

'After literally years of rumours about a Google-branded mobile, there was huge expectation around the launch. The key communications challenge for Google is to demonstrate that it can successfully enter the highly competitive smartphone market and quickly build a sustainable, vibrant community of users and developers.'

That goal, said Mi Liberty joint MD Dee Gibbs, had been hampered by a 'low-key' comms approach from Google. 'Analysts love facts and figures, and this launch seemed to be thin on both.'

Millar added that initial media coverage had focused on the handset itself: 'Google will want to refocus reviewers and opinion-formers on the capabilities of its mobile platform and the benefits for consumers.

'It will have to manage the product review process very carefully. Problems must be solved and misconceptions corrected, together with a sustained effort to broaden the story to the benefits of the Android platform.'

Regardless of initial reviews, Speed Communications chief Stephen Waddington suggested Google's direct entry into the smartphone market should not be underestimated. 'As we've seen with the Chrome browser campaign, Google has the brains, tenacity and deep enough pockets to play the long game and slowly erode Apple's leadership in this area,' he said.

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