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Oops! Google Apparently Started Selling New Nexus Phone by Mistake


A peek behind the curtain.

The consumer gadget world in 2013 is a piece of silent kabuki theater between the press and comically tight-lipped companies. Pictures leak from Asian factories and accessory manufacturers up until the moment of the theatrical product unveiling.

Well, the leak for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) newest phone, the Nexus 5, actually came from Google itself. Oops!

Last night, people started noticing the Nexus 5 in the Google Play store, selling for $349. An 8-gigabyte storage version was priced at just $299. Since then, Google has squashed the leak, and the year-old Nexus 4 is back, for the same price.

The screw-up validated several leaks about the phone's body. The Nexus 5 has a rather large 1080p 4.95-inch display with very little side bezel. The back-facing camera looks like it sticks out a bit, unlike the one on the previous model. This could mean better camera guts, approaching Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) 41-megapixel beast of a Windows Phone (NASDAQ:MSFT). Previous leaks also hinted that Google stuck with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) for the processor, upgrading to a quicker 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU.

The most interesting point here is the pricing. Anyone planning on spending $350 on a Nexus 4 should hold off. Android 4.4, nicknamed Kit-Kat, is generally a small iterative change over the last version, but the screenshots of the leak show that Google gave its own Hangouts app the slot normally reserved for SMS texting, as Engadget points out.

For investors, this is also interesting. Consumers see Google as the provider of search results, free email, and such, but to Wall Street, it's basically just an advertising company. However, as we saw in Google's latest earnings release, the non-ad business grew 85% year-over-year while advertising grew just 15%. The stuff outside of Google's core revenue stream, including Nexus devices, Chromebooks, apps, and media on Google Play and YouTube, is now $1.3 billion, or 9% of its total revenue, not counting the money-losing Motorola Mobility unit.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett

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