Nexus One First Impressions

About two weeks ago I managed to score a Nexus One. Having been an iPhone user now through 3 iterations, I was curious to see what Android was like and whether or not it would kill my iPhone love.
I started playing with my Nexus One without a SIM card. I just turned on WIFI because I was most curious about the app and operating system experience; I assumed that calling would be about the same as another mobile phone, which would probably mean that was better than my crappy AT&T iPhone experience.
Although I did not perform an exhaustive use of the phone, I did form some pretty quick impressions that I’d thought I’d share:
1. Their app store didn’t connect when I tried to buy something while connected through WIFI. My expectations through 3G would have been much less as connectivity could have hampered a purchase, but through WIFI it shouldn’t have had a problem. On my iPhone, I’ve purchased many things and it has never failed to connect.
2. Surfing through their app store, it is clearly early and the amount of apps available here is growing but nowhere near the breadth of Apple’s app store. Until their app store catches up, this is going to be a huge hinderance in my adopting the Nexus One.
3. I couldn’t figure out how to sync with anything on my Mac. IPhone shines here of course being an Apple product.
4. All Google related services were very nicely integrated. But annoyingly like the mail app on the iPhone, they don’t cache messages. This is something I hate from the iPhone and they haven’t fixed it here. This is also something I loved about my old Treo 680 where I could download and hold cached email and read/access it offline.
5. The Nexus One touch screen doesn’t seem as responsive as the iPhone. Many times I have to multi-hit an icon to get it to respond. This is annoying.
6. As far as the UI is concerned, I don’t see anything that stands out so much that would make it more or less usable. It is elegant in its own way, and I think that while the differences are a bit disconcerting now due to my unfamiliarity with it, I think that I would get used to the small differences between the iPhone and Android and be OK with it.
This is not like Windows and OS X where the differences and issues are so glaring despite the similarities that I find myself constantly wondering why Windows sucks and OS X is just better.
The back button is pretty cool though. Sometimes I wish the iPhone had one.
However, I think my biggest issues are the lack of integration with a desktop platform and the brand value of owning Apple.
The iPhone’s easy integration with my Mac and OS X is of tremendous value to me. I remember spending an incredible amount of time figuring out how to sync my Treo 680 to whatever I was using. It sort of worked eventually, but it also just seemed very Borg-like and not an elegant integration. I suppose if I lived completely in the cloud, maybe Android might be OK. But, being a stodgy old timer in the computing space, I don’t trust the cloud and like backing up to my desktop, which is further backed up elsewhere.
The other big thing is brand value. It’s about owning a device that is beautiful and calls attention to not only it, but me also. Apple has done an amazing job creating products that are not only usable and useful, but beautiful and objects of desire. Somehow the Nexus One just falls short in this area in a big way. I don’t feel brand connected to anything with this device. Should I be connected to Google in that way? But Google doesn’t have that kind of brand that Apple has, which is fashionable, sexy, techie but easy and elegant to use. Google is pure tech and geek to me, which is fine but I think getting geek and high fashion is better.
I expect the Nexus One and their app store to catch up to the iPhone in many ways, but the brand value is something that Apple owns and that Steve Jobs and his team have done an amazing job of cultivating, and is one that unfortunately I can’t see Google matching in the same way, assuming they even want to.
In the world of feature parity for any kind of product, what else is left to compete on? Style and brand.