About a month ago, things started going wrong for Google in terms of the launch of their latest Nexus smartphone. The launch ceremony in New York City was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.
From there things escalated into a series of unfortunate mishaps and bad decisions. Google chose not to allow pre-orders for their phone. Didn’t send out the notification email. Started it early (before announced time/date) and then their website caved under the torrent of bandwidth (we are talking about Google’s servers going down – this is like if all of the security at the White House took off to go have lunch). While the Nexus 7 launch was fraught with issues, at least they had a pre-order on that one and as a result it wasn’t as bad as the Nexus 4 launch has been so far.
This has obviously gone pretty well documented already so I won’t really comment on how the whole thang went down beyond that point (backorders).
Here are a couple things I’d like to point out with regards to the launch:
- Did they really ‘Underestimate Demand’? — I don’t believe this for a second. Google has launched phones before. It was obvious from the get-go that this phone should be a huge seller. To avoid potentially pissing off OEMs and other Android ‘vendors’ they purposely limit the number of devices they sell. Consumer interest is still piqued as a result (even though they are angry at Google), and they go check out some other Android phone instead of waiting for the Nexus 4 to come back in stock.They had every opportunity to have a pre-order. They should have had at least some sort of idea about what sort of demand they were going to recieve simply through their ‘email notification form’, if through nothing else.
- No real apology or comment on the issues surrounding the launch from Google — People are upset about it, and perhaps their thinking is that if they (Google) admit that they messed up then this will be a mark on their ‘record’. By ignoring the problem, the media doesn’t get into the whole mess and Google avoids bad press. I imagine that when the supply chain issues get sorted out Google will really get behind the phone and start pushing it. But they are dealing with the situation at hand at the moment.To keep better ‘good will’ with the community, providing more concise updates and actually shipping devices in the correct order would have been wise.
- The sort of people who like Nexus devices and follow them are a niche group — Google has a core group of people who are android enthusiasts who are the people who keep causing the phone to sell out. I don’t believe that they are selling an incredible number of these phones, it is just that this dedicated core group of ‘fandroids’ are clamouring to get this phone, sucked in by the thought of “pure Google” and of not having any sort of disgusting carrier branding or touchwiz/sense skins on their phones. The problem is that Google needs to fix the issues that plagued the launch of this phone if they ever want to gain any significant market share selling these. People (unless they really want things) just don’t put up with this sort of crap.
- Someday, Google will actually build a phone that has impeccable industrial design — I am one of “those people” who wishes that they bought a Nexus Q. Google decided not to release the device (mainly because it didn’t really do anything) but they ended up giving all those who preordered the device a free Q. The whole thing is basically just a sphere of industrial design perfection. It looks awesome, it’s rugged, and it’s a music and youtube streaming device that has an awesome audiophile amp built-in. People have already ported CyanogenMod to it, and once you get any sort of linux distro onto that sort of a device, you are off to the races in terms of possiblities (see the communities that have been built around cool devices like the Raspberry Pi XBMC team).However, Google chose not to use this team when they designed the N4 (as far as I know). If they did, they didn’t capture the same magic that the Q had. Everything that is in the Nexus Q’s video promo resonates with me so strongly.
Even though Google has killer designers and even a whole mobile phone company (Motorola – which is basically just a puppet of Verizon) at their disposal, they continually ignore these options to avoid making other Android manufacturers upset!
They need to grow some balls and actually build their own devices and quit outsourcing this task to other companies. With the options and data they have at their disposal, Google could actually create something that HTC, Samsung or Nokia couldn’t dream of building any time in the near future.
But for this to happen, they need to be confident they will succeed in selling their “Google-Phone”. Which they’re not. And let’s hope that changes! I can’t wait to see the next big thing.