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Summary:

Google’s new Nexus One allots only 190MB of memory for storing local apps. That’s a tiny fraction of the available app storage on Apple’s iPhone, but the strategy of sacrificing local storage aligns with Google’s plans for its upcoming Chrome OS.

Google’s new Nexus One is a great addition to the current lineup of smartphones on the market, one that performs impressively and boasts a sleek appearance and nifty features. But as both AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg and the New York Times’ David Pogue point out, the phone’s built-in memory for storing mobile applications is notably inferior to that of the iPhone. The Nexus One allots only 190MB of its overall 4.5GB of memory for storing mobile apps, a tiny fraction of the app storage available on the Apple device.

The limited app storage is in keeping with other Android-based handsets; the Motorola Droid from Verizon Wireless, for example, has been criticized for including just 256MB for such a purpose. And Google said yesterday that it will address the issue in a future release by enabling encryption on microSD cards, which will also serve to eliminate fears over pirated apps and allow users to store apps on the removable cards. Many consumers have yet to embrace removable memory, though, which can be a hassle for users unaccustomed to keeping their data anywhere but on the device itself.

Google’s strategy in mobile (subscription required) seems aligned with its upcoming Chrome OS, which as Sebastian has noted works only with data stored in the cloud. For now, at least, it seems Google believes users don’t need much in the way of local resources. Only time will tell if consumers themselves agree.

Related Research: Google’s Mobile Strategy
Google’s mobile strategy is about more than just capturing new ad revenue — its about enabling innovation and boosting access.

Image courtest Flickr user sindesign.

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  1. At yesterday’s Nexus One product launch, Google said they will soon be releasing a software update that will allow users to store applications on their SD cards: http://www.androidguys.com/2010/01/06/the-non-device-news-from-googles-press-event/

  2. Google already noted they are well on their way to readying an update (or patch) that will fix this memory/storage problem. So it likely won’t even be an issue for much longer.

  3. ProfessionalGun Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    It isn’t an issue even now. The truth is that only the bare essentials of these programs are stored on the phone’s internal memory. The microSD card holds the bulkier application resources. That means you can install applications with wild abandon without much fear of running out of space since the executables have such a small footprint.

    1. Apparently Google doesn’t agree that it isn’t a problem otherwise they would have said as much during their announcement yesterday. Instead they acknowledged that it was a problem and promised a fix in the future.

      I don’t know much about the Android market but can you point me to applications that use the technique of downloading data to the SD card? Thanks.

      1. My guess is that Google is aware that the comparably small internal storage is both a concern for consumers, and an area that competition can target as a weakness. I’ve also read that there may be implications with regard to any serious game development. . . but I can’t speak to that with certainty.

        My point is that this isn’t the issue that people want to make it out to be. With the provided space, you can store more applications than you’d want to navigate through. I just cleaned house on my Droid for that very reason (and I had only used about half the available space.)

    2. If you’ve got all those “application resources” on the SD card, you couldn’t swap around those SD cards without breaking apps, right? Wouldn’t that eliminate most of the advantage of being able to remove the card?

      1. You make a good point, William. I don’t think applications would break, though. I think they would create new directories that could potentially result in a loss of customized settings.

        I have the Droid – and with its 16gb card, I haven’t really given much thought to swapping it out. I agree – that would be a limitation if you were inclined to constantly swap SD cards. Personally, I look at the removable storage capability as a feature for upgrading the storage on the device – not as an option to carry around a bunch of tiny cards.

        I think the app called “Where” is a good example of an application storing content on the removable media. My installation houses 50 files totaling 1.6mb on the microSD in a folder called “where”. Other applications that created directories on my card are Qik, PicSay, Layar, Foursquare, and AmazonMP3 to name a few.

  4. this article is entirely stupid, if you looked at it, the “190MB” is for the application binaries. If you somehow manage to install the 200+ apps it would take to fill it up, you might have a bit of a menu management problem before a ‘disk is full problem’.

    1. Exactly. Well said, Ryan. I expect more from GigaOM. Pogue, not so much. Too bad he has so much sway in the mainstream.

  5. Just a thought, but if iPhones with their ample local storage are clobbering the AT&T network, what would be the effect of millions of phones with no storage getting everything off the AT&T/Verizon/other networks? Would that result in less congestion of the networks somehow?

  6. The Nexus One story sounds to me a lot like the MS Zune story.

    Apple was making billions from iPODs while MS was making close to
    nothing from selling FairPlay or whatever they call their software to mp3 player manufacturers. So what happened next?

    MS is pressured by investors to make their own device- the Zune.

    Apple continues to dominate the mp3 player marker today.

    Forward a three or four years later– Apple’s making $4B+ per quarter from selling iPhones.

    Google’s plugging Android for well over a year and making nothing!

    Google’s pressured by investors to make their won device- after all if Apple could make billions, so can Google. Right?

    Let’s see if the two stories have the same ending- something tells me they will.

    Three years from now the Google phone will 84th in Amazon’s list of want have devices; while Apple will have three/four of the top 10 devices.

    The moral of this story- if MS cant beat Apple at software and hardware- how in the world could anybody think Google can?????

    I guess stupid is as stupid does!

    1. That seems a strange analogy, lrd. First off, FairPlay is Apple’s DRM software. I think PlayForSure is what you wanted to reference. To my knowledge, both are pretty much dead.

      Your analogy might have weight if the Nexus One was Google’s only entry into the mobile space. It’s one of, what, 20? And Android is showing big market gains.

      The smartphone landscape is a lot different from the media player landscape. Today, much of the value of a mobile OS comes from the quantity and availability of applications. Look at the Palm Pre with fantastic software struggling to gain traction amongst developers. . . . If you don’t have the developers, you don’t have a viable product in this market, no matter how good product itself actually is.

      I don’t think there’s anyone who expects interest in a single mobile device to stay strong over time. There are a lot of people who feel that their iPhones are starting to feel dated – and with good reason. There’s always going to be something better on the horizon. Google is positioning Android as a flexible, evolving OS for any number of phones.

      It’s misguided to even try to compare a model like that to the fixed model of Microsoft’s Zune.

  7. 190MB is a lot of space compared to what comes on most BlackBerry’s these days. Even the new Storm 2 only has 256MB for apps.

  8. As Google Takes On the iPhone, True Openness — and Developers — Are Key – GigaOM Thursday, January 7, 2010

    [...] In asking a couple of other Nexus One-related questions of DiBona, I mentioned that the phone seems to have extremely good battery life, to which he said he thinks the Droid’s is actually longer. I also asked him about widespread criticism of the fact that Google’s phone allows only 190MB of its local storage to store apps. [...]

  9. As Google Takes On the iPhone, True Openness — and Developers … « The Apple Blog (WPAutomate Demo) Thursday, January 7, 2010

    [...] In asking a couple of other Nexus One-related questions of DiBona, I mentioned that the phone seems to have extremely good battery life, to which he said he thinks the Droid’s is actually longer. I also asked him about widespread criticism of the fact that Google’s phone allows only 190MB of its local storage to store apps. [...]

  10. All you have to do is get root access to your phone and the problem is solved. I store all of the apps on my mytouch to the SD card.

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