Google's Nexus 4 briefly reappears in UK and Germany, but 8GB version sells out again

Google's Nexus 4 briefly reappears in UK and Germany, but 8GB version sells out again

Summary: Like a rock star playing a one-off comeback gig in a small venue, the Nexus 4 became available again for a few hours on Tuesday evening before vanishing again. Luckily I caught the show, but the fact that the phone is yet again out of stock points to ongoing problems on Google's side.


It came, went, returned and vanished again: the elusive Nexus 4 went back on sale on Tuesday afternoon in the UK and Germany, and the 8GB version is now sold out again.

I was one of the lucky few to place an order in what must have been a pretty brief window of opportunity, albeit longer than the original availability period of, oh, whole minutes. There I was at 5pm, mashing away at the order button, having a spark of faith that I would break through the "Due to high demand, your order could not be processed. Please try again later" barrier, and indeed I did.

Nexus 4
Now you see it, now you don't: the Nexus 4.

I know that button-mashing helped confuse the system for others, but situations such as those are really every-man-for-himself. Apologies.

At the time of ordering — I got through around 5.15pm CET, for I live in Germany — I was told it would take one-to-two weeks for the phone to be delivered. Hours later, when I checked through a different browser (the Play Store wouldn't even show me availability again while I was logged in, as I had "reached the limit for this item"), it was predicting a mind-boggling five-to-six weeks for anyone ordering at that point. That's still the case for the 16GB version. The 8GB version is sold out.

To Google's credit, the company seems to have learned its lesson about giving clear information to prospective customers. The first time the Nexus 4 sold out, last month, there was an hours-long period during which the Play Store described the phone as "coming soon" as though it had never gone on sale, despite the fact that it had.

However, it remains clear that something is still going wrong. The Nexus 4 is a low-priced flagship, which is odd but a good explanation for its massive popularity — popularity that Google must surely have been able to predict.

I've still not worked out what the problem is. If it's a supply chain issue, then that would be the simplest explanation, and one that should see Google scrambling. This above all is the area in which Apple excels, and Google's just looking bad here.

But I can't help but feel that the Nexus 4's scanty availability has something to do with its pricing. That low price point — the 8GB version costs just £239 — must have severely irked the operators, as for many people it will be a no-brainer to pick up the handset unsubsidised and use it with a no-contract, pay-as-you-go deal. Which is precisely what I shall be doing, as it's a much cheaper alternative to a contract (telcos charge the Earth here in Deutschland).

Was there pushback? Is Google losing so much money on each Nexus 4 that it doesn't want to sell too many? It's impossible to tell at this point. The only thing I can say is that, if Google had a strategy with the Nexus 4 and its pricing, it was implemented in a half-hearted and confused manner at best.

If Google had a strategy with the Nexus 4 and its pricing, it was implemented in a half-hearted and confused manner at best

Because, right now, the effect of the Nexus 4 is not positive for Google. After the handset sold out the first time, I looked around at the Android landscape and scoped out a few more high-end devices, only to turn away because they just seemed so expensive in comparison. I didn't buy those smartphones from Google's OEM partners, and I couldn't buy the Nexus 4.

In other words, I wasn't buying anything, until yesterday, when I only happened to get my order through as a result of being sat in front of my computer at the right time. If I'd been otherwise engaged for the afternoon and early evening, I would have been right back where I started: I myself opted for the 16GB version, but I consider five-to-six weeks' estimated delivery time as being roughly equivalent to "out of stock", for practical purposes.

That is not an optimal way of doing business.

Topics: Android, Google, Mobility, Smartphones, EU, United Kingdom

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Not all Google's fault....

    Asus is the manufacturer of the Nexus line for Google. Have you checked to see if there are any issues with Asus manufacturing being able to keep up with consumer's demand for the Nexus? If product is not available, then there is not much Google can do about the sell-outs.
    linux for me
  • @ linux for me

    The nexus 4 is made by LG not Asus so you know...Asus is the manufacturer of the Nexus 7 & 10
    • @ BostonGooner

      The nexus 7 is made by Samsung not Asus so you know...Samsung is the manufacturer of the Nexus 10
      Van Der
  • I may have been able to order 1!

    I tried to order a Nexus 4 on Tuesday evening :-)
    The website told me there had been a fault with my order and that I will get refunded in the next 24 hour.
    At the same time I got an email letting me know that my order had been successful. Delivery 4 to 5 weeks. The email also says that no charge will be made until it is delivered.

    At the present I have no idea whether I will get one or not... I am totally confused!
    • @Drakkhen

      You already have your order in. I got the same thing. Mines will be in next week in the US. It was 2 to 3 weeks for me. You can call them the number it gave you. Thats what I did first thing.
      Ambrose Ellis
  • Me want one

    I like all the aspects of the Nexus 4 but just don't seem to be able to get one so I will wait until March time to buy one.
  • Ships Soon (5-6 weeks)!

    The window of opportunity appears to be still open, so I managed to get an order in this morning for a 16GB model. However the downside is that I have to wait until at least 10th January. It's not exactly ideal and underlines the fact that LG must have a supplies/manufacturing/distribution problem if there is no problem with existing handsets.
  • don't over estimate Googles cleverness

    I guess you've fallen victim in your believe that Google has a strategy. No they don't. Just a bunch of managers making mistakes more often than not. At least Google is honest enough to admit that fact.

    But they are not alone. Is there ANY company out there that can deliver enough products according to demand ? Big NO !! MS surface RT, Nokia Lumia 92 just to name a few.

    Nikons successful D800 had a backlog in delivery of months. Sales launch in January some buyers had to wait until June to get one.
  • Isn't the Battery the weak point of the Nexus 4?

    Isn't the Battery the weak point of the Nexus 4?

    With the Surface it was poor performance with Flash, but reports of a dire battery life put me off the Nexus 4 first time round (I had one in my basket on UK release,but didn't bit).

    I did jump this time (as other reports weren't as bad) and like David Meyer, have one on order to be delivered in 1-2 Weeks. I'll soon find out either way if its the right or wrong choice - but I still think battery issues will be its big downside. I hoping I'm proved wrong.
  • Not interested with a fixed, small battery

    Having repeatedly suffered from my Galaxy S2 going flat just when I really needed it, I gave in and bought a relatively expensive 3200mah battery for it. It now makes it through a day, no matter how much I use it. The phone is bigger and heavier, but I simply don't care because it is now fit for purpose. I was initially very excited by the Nexus 4, until I found the battery is fixed, and a small capacity relative to the power of the phone - it would drive me crazy.