The tech industry needs the "Nexus Two" or whatever name Google decides to name their next official Android device, if & when it ever comes out.
As everyone knows, the Nexus One was supposed to change how we view cell phones forever. Unfortunately, Google learned how much control the carriers still have over this space. Thus, the Nexus One turned out to be a "failure". But as you look at the new crop of Android phones, none of them stand out as THE device as far as how the OS's experience is supposed to be across all phones. I'm not even sure if I could count the upcoming G2 as the next Google experience, as it's loaded by carrier specific apps that no one will probably care for.
And that's the biggest issue with Android right now, or at least one them. Carriers are now going too far in deciding what goes into these things to profit more off of them & the manufacturers don't make it any easier by skinning them with less than helpful interfaces.
As Apple takes great strides to reinvent itself every year with the iPhone, Google needs to do the same with Android. And everybody is already looking at Gingerbread to kill some of the fragmentation that's plaguing the platform. Why not do it in a handset that could be the end all, be all handset? It doesn't have to be the exact same model that the Nexus One was sold by, but seeing as carriers love to cripple the OS in some way, Google would probably need to sell it unlocked to give you the pure Android experience. And I still think it's possible to go with their earlier plan of selling it a cheap price unlocked & letting mobile ads take care of the revenue. The carriers still get paid regardless because of the service, so I don't see how this could not work.
You still have a chance to innovate Google.
I think that with the Nexus One, a lot of people were bulding it up to be the phone to set the bar, and to a degree it did. It was a phone that was super speedy that was at to top of the list for updates, sold directly though Google and not through any specific carrier, and if the plan was followed through, would of been a phone that was avaliable on ALL major carriers. Where Google failed, and I partly blame the media for this, was pricing. There was a build up of them selling this phone for a subsidized price off contract, but that was not the case. This sort of turned people away from buying a phone that was nearly 4 times the price of a phone that is tied to a 2 year contract. It was hard for Google to sell a phone that (at the time) only worked on one network. When the AT&T version came out, people realized it was a completely different phone (e.g. 3G on one network, not both). Then other major carries began pulling out in favor of their own "controlled" Android sets.
So I think Google has the chance to innovate, they just need to focus on where their attention to details will be. I think if they can some how grab a great pricing model, more people, and eventually carriers will follow suit.
Apple charges the highest off-contract prices out there, and commands a similar position in on-contract - and they're doing fine, and it's not just about the apps - it's a device which in terms of usability delivers what the majority of the smartphone marketplace wants.
As far as pricing goes, the subsidy model has so distorted the market that very few are willing to stump up the full price for a phone whatever it is - and as for 'subsidising an off-contract phone', well it's hard to determine what that will achieve long-term - this isn't a game console business model. You'd have to be... well, Google to throw away that much cash and compete on price, and yet there's no justification for doing so when everyone else is happily shelling out more on another phone.
And the truth is that in terms of the very small details that geeks may ignore but are very apparent to the ordinary consumer, the Nexus still wasn't quite there.
Speaking of apps though, Android Marketplace needs, apart from a serious revamp, something akin to a team of moderators - not to control the apps, but to curate them better. I know some app developers will complain that it then gives disproportionate exposure to the curated apps, but that's no excuse - you should be aiming to be one of those apps. It is currently relying too hard on sheer serendipity for a regular user to come up against apps of any discernible quality. Perhaps Google can set up and fund an offshoot company to independently manage this process.
It's foolish to think anything other than that. If Google really wanted to change the wireless market, they would've continued and followed through on the spectrum bid, but they didn't and went in bed with Verizon instead. Google's interest is money, and they know that quickest way to do that is to side with the carriers and give them what they want. I mean really, the carriers are the real customers. Besides, US consumers have spoken, that they prefer a carrier-controlled phones. The US consumers have been brainwashed by the carriers for so long, that they simply don't want to change. People have been brainwashed to think that unlocked = no-subsidy, and to have an affordable smartphone, it has to be carrier-controlled and locked. Even the geeks are thinking that way, which is hardly the case as countries like Singapore have free/subsidized smartphones unlocked out of the box. Apple tried to break the mold by having full control of the OS, but still stuck with carrier-locking in the US, despite selling iPhones unlocked in Canada and Mexico.
Until the geek and tech community themselves stop supporting carrier-controlled phones, I don't expect any changes.