Google Nexus 4: Not many reasons to give thanks

Google Nexus 4: Not many reasons to give thanks

Summary: It started with a surprising e-commerce mess. Then the backorder blues. And now, silence.

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TOPICS: Google
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At least here on the right coast, Thanksgiving is over. Countless helpings of stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turkey are making their slow, painful way through our battered digestive tracts. My wife made us all stop stuffing our faces briefly and think about what we're thankful for. Family, friends, a warm home, etc., etc. I'd be lying if I said that some years I considered adding Google to that list. After all, their services help me and millions of other people communicate, collaborate, run our businesses, make money, and make sense of the vast Interwebs.

The past 10 days, though, the blogosphere, Twitter, and Google+ have been buzzing about the utter mess that marked what should have been their single most significant product launch in the company's history. More than a few folks called out the more vehement bloggers and posters (including yours truly), telling us to stop whining about our first-world problems and give Google a break. "Boo hoo...you can't get your new phone before Thanksgiving." "Companies make mistakes...get over it." "Go buy an iPhone and quit complaining." "It's just a *#@!-ing phone."

This isn't about me (or anyone else) getting a new phone, though. And it's not "just a [insert expletive of your choice here] phone. The Nexus 4 is a direct attack on the US wireless industry. How could a $300 unlocked phone, on which Google even took the risk of excluding LTE to short circuit negotiations with carriers, not be a game-changer in a country of contracts, lock-ins, and dismal competition?

The phone is also a direct attack on Apple. As I write this, Apple is "busy updating the store" but unlocked 16GB iPhone 5's run $649 (or closer to $900 if you head for Amazon to try and find one). $300 for an unlocked phone with arguably better or comparable specs? Yes, it's an iPhone attack, score 1 for Google.

It's also a chance for Google to show the world that Android doesn't need to be hobbled by carriers or the fragmentation that has caused developers to create apps for iOS first and Android as a pain-in-the-butt afterthought. At $300, a lot of people can potentially be using the latest and greatest version of Android, updated directly and regularly by the great and powerful GOOG itself. This isn't a low-volume, Nexus One-esque device. The Nexus 4 could be the Android superphone for everyone (or at least for a large cross-section of smartphone buyers).

And Google blew the launch.

No, I'm not whining about my new phone. From a business and PR perspective, this makes the privacy gaffes around Google Buzz look like a minor stumble. And it's my job to look at this from the business (as well as the consumer) perspectives.

To make matters worse, Google has been first inconsistent and confusing in its communications with consumers and silent in its communications with media and the larger community. Just an hour and a half before I received my backorder email, Google Play Support responded to an email inquiry telling me that my phone would ship the next day. A few days ago, they sent a followup email thanking me for the opportunity to answer my questions and asking if I was satisfied with the resolution. Uhhhhhh...no.

Other backordered buyers have been told to "just keep checking" their Google Wallet accounts for updates. I'm not making that up. Requests for comment from Google have been answered with silence. Nothing on the Google Blog. Not even an attempt to spin the mess with talk of "unprecedented demand" or a "market hungry for a different way of doing business". Not even a mea culpa. Just the occasional cricket chirping in Mountain View. Or is that what missed opportunities sound like?

Oh well...at least I have pumpkin pie.

Topic: Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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20 comments
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  • Amén...

    Well put ... Lost opportunity for sure.

    And it it STILL not impressive that they have kept a charge/hold on my creditcard of 800+ USD for a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 10 (the nexus 10 is not even sold out). The charge has been on there since the 13th, and never heard a peep from them since.

    I don't care if it is B2B or B2C that is just not too impressive ...
    anonymous
    • Has any other phone in history sold out worldwide in an hour?

      Just how unprecedented might the demand for the Nexus 4 be?

      It might be orders of magnitude greater than what we think it is. Google really does now have the world's hottest phone.

      The carriers are angry because the Nexus 4 just wrote them out of the picture. Apple and Microsoft are not happy as it just disrupted their entire business models, as Google is selling the Nexus 4 at such a low price that Google makes no profit.

      It wouldn't surprise me if they launch legal action or even anti-trust action as a result of the Nexus 4.
      Vbitrate
      • Meaningless Metric.

        If you have 100 of something it will sell out in seconds. We don't know what the run was so we have no idea about how successful it was.
        jgpmolloy
      • Nexus' sales are not that much to care about "per hour rate", especially ..

        ... because the characteristics are "with arguably worse or comparable" rather than "arguably better or comparable". This this "worse" is quite dramatic -- starting from no LTE to fragile case to twice-trice slower graphics to much heavier, thicker and bulkier design to no convenient one-hand use to less consistent UI and no really graphics-demanding games to less quality apps in general, among other things.

        However, if the price of unsubsidised device is much lower, then some buyers can overlook those drawbacks and choose this much cheaper device. Being twice cheaper is fair price for Nexus 4, considering the specifications.
        DDERSSS
  • Amén...

    Well put ... Lost opportunity for sure.

    And it it STILL not impressive that they have kept a charge/hold on my creditcard of 800+ USD for a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 10 (the nexus 10 is not even sold out). The charge has been on there since the 13th, and never heard a peep from them since.

    I don't care if it is B2B or B2C that is just not too impressive ...
    anonymous
  • That's what you get

    That's what you get when you deal with a multi-conglomerate.
    Susan Antony
    • Really

      As opposed to a mom and pop shop?
      Jeff Kibuule
  • Ah to have growing pains and short terms delays...

    Google will likely get through this and in the long run, you will be better for all the benefits that your new phone will bring. Having purchased a Google Galaxy Nexus last Spring (and just gotten the Android 4.2 latest Jellybean update a week or so ago), I would say I am very happy I went the Google route. If I had one complaint it is that the accessories (desktop dock) for the Google Galaxy Nexus that I purchased are no longer available. That is something that may not be a short term issue, it could be long term. I can deal with delays as long as the products are good, I won't be realy happy if I can't get accessories to make my earlier investment keep adding value for me.
    jkohut
    • Ya, no huge Google/Android fan here but...

      In all honesty, this is typical of IT industry insider whining as opposed to something that will shake the industry due to general customer dissatisfaction. The problem is the world is now well used to not being able to get first day delivery of the new hot tech item and in the long run, if Google somehow blew it or not it hardly matters in the big icture. Nobody is running at top speed to the competition because of this. Its a minor blip in a world of some rather important issues as opposed to "my cell phone was delivered too late for my likeing".
      Cayble
  • I got mine last friday...

    I had blown my main breaker in my house, so I had no power or internet. I had to order the phone by tethering my laptop to my old phone... Ordered the 8gig one at 11:55am EST. The web site did have a hiccup or two during the ordering process. Overall my experience was not bad at all. It was a million times better that going to a retail store and dealing with dim witted cell phone sales men. My personal experience I have Google a B+, the website shuddering and me forgetting to order the bumper keep it from being an A.
    ekeefe41
  • No LTE and no CDMA...

    ...makes it a non-starter for me and probably a lot of other people. I agree that this is a solid phone and at $299, a great deal, but considering most people are paying a carrier already and don't see the two year contract as an issue AND that Verizon has the largest subscriber base, how could this ever be a big success?

    Not to mention not having the carriers on board with marketing help.

    Most people are going to still pick up an SIII or Note 2 or One X.
    jstoddard365
    • You right but...

      Really what you are right about is that people are drones. I bought a unlocked $200+ and put it on strait Talk with unlimited voice, data, and text for $45 a month with very good 3g coverage. Can tether, hotspot, etc. I don't miss LTE as I think most people would not if they are not video streamers plus LTE eats up battery live. Heck, sometimes I bump my phone down to 2g if I am travelling and cant charge it. Carrier contracts are rip offs and monthly fees are a rip off.
      Rann Xeroxx
    • Not likely

      Who enjoys getting raped on a monthly basis for $80-100 ?

      I pay $30 a month. I can tether my phone to all my devices. And I have no contract.

      Hopefully Google's strategy will work and (over time) people will start moving away from 2 year contracts with the carriers. I had Verizon back in 2003 and I hated them. They nickel and dimed me for EVERYTHING! I couldn't wait to get out of that contract. I haven't signed a contract with a phone carrier since 2009 and I don't plan to ever again. The future is bright for smartphones. But, the carriers' days of extended contracts and exorbitant prices are numbered.
      binaryloop
  • Similar to Nexus 7 launch

    Pretty much all the update e-mails I received after I ordered my Nexus 7 turned out to be wrong, from dates to promises of expedited shipping. I was hoping Google would have learned a lesson that they need to pay some attention to logistics before a repeat performance. Sounds like they're repeating the same mistakes, though.

    I still really like my Nexus 7 and plan to replace my Verizon Galaxy Nexus phone with a pure Nexus phone after my contract runs out a year from now and start going contract-free. I really like the hardware and software. Maybe after another year, they'll have worked out some of their logistics problems, too, so the buying experience won't reek.
    harryflowers@...
  • Lost Opportunity...

    I agree - Google has lost out on a great opportunity. For myself, I will wait for the Nexus 4 because it is such as good value for the hardware. But for people who were on the fence about what to get, Black Friday had some awesome deals if you are willing to sign a contract. Sams Club had a Samsung Galaxy (SIII, I think) phone for .96 cents! Google could have run their own Black Friday special and offered some promo - say $25 or so to the Google Play store if you bought the Nexus before 11/23/12. The hype is obviously there. But none of that works if they don't have anything to sell, and if their system doesn't work to let people reliably buy it. If they can get it together to have product to reliably sell at that great price - and enough of it - that could change the way wireless is sold to Americans. In other parts of the world, you buy your phone and then shop for a service provider. Here, it is the opposite. In the end, consumers end up spending a lot more than they need to by signing contracts, and it lets the service providers lock up the phone before the consumer gets it.
    Ian Buell
  • +1

    Again and again, the idiots are Google have no idea about Customer Service. How many times are the numb brained Fandroids going to wake up and smell the coffee? Do they need shock therapy or a lobotomy? Google customer service and marketing makes Apple look like Costco.
    Spaztic888
  • +1

    +1

    Again and again, the idiots at Google have no idea about Customer Service. How many times are the numb brained Fandroids going always defend Google at whatever they do. Why not wake up and smell the coffee? Do the Fandroids need shock therapy or a lobotomy? Google customer service and marketing makes Apple look like Costco.
    Spaztic888
  • Beta e-commerce

    I'd be surprised if even Larry Page is aware of the mess, since they always navigate under the "Beta" excuse which is also the reason they are such a groundbreaking force.
    rythemboy
  • I still can't pre-order

    I get that Google botched the launch and that there was massive demand. But, here it is almost 3 weeks later and I STILL can't pre-order a Nexus 4. How about it Google? Put up a page that says: "Due to overwhelming demand we sold out instantly! But, fear not, we have a ton of new phones on the way. Add one to your cart and check out now. Then, when the new phones arrive we'll charge your credit card and drop one in the mail for you. As a way to say "thank you" for being patient we'll even include a free case for your new phone." Really. How hard is that?
    binaryloop
  • Disappointed

    I rely on Google daily in so many different ways. I am also a happy owner of the Nexus 7 tablet. So I feel even more disappointed by their disregard for the customer in the case of the phantom Nexus 4. Would it take more than 15 minutes to put some information regarding the phone's availability the Google Play website ? Google, learn from Amazon and Apple how to treat your customers.
    Ezoned