Google Has Fumbled Its Phone Revolution

December 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

A weak supply chain is wrecking the potential of the Google Nexus 4, a game-changing device.

“Is it really that good?” a friend of mine asked me earlier this week. He was, of course, referring to the Google Nexus 4, a revolutionarily-priced new smartphone.

I confirmed to him that for the asking price (£239 8GB edition; £279 16GB edition) it most certainly was. Later that evening, unable to buy a Nexus 4 from Google’s site, my friend went onto eBay and bought two Nexus 4s for a total of nearly $1,200 – the second for a friend, forgetting all about the UK’s alarmingly expensive import duty and taxes. Several frantic emails later he is now dutifully waiting for the Nexus 4 to come back into stock in the UK.

Search the web and you’ll see this type of story isn’t uncommon. In launching a handset with truly cutting edge specifications in the price bracket of a low-end smartphone Google has caused a sensation. Sadly, however, the botched launch has caused equal frustration and hysteria.

It went wrong from the outset. The Google Nexus 4 went on sale on 13 November at 8.45am, 15 minutes earlier than expected, and caused a virtual stampede. The Google Play store ground to a halt and within 30 minutes all Nexus 4 stock was sold. It took about the same amount of time for the recriminations to start. Some users complained of having successfully placed orders only for Play not to register it, others found they had inadvertently bought two, their anger subsiding when they realised the aforementioned eBay potential.

Google said more stock would be “coming soon”, but in the two weeks since there was no communication, no option to pre-order, no restock dates – nothing. On 26 November, Google finally told US customers sales would restart the following day. At the time of writing, outside the US the silence continues.

Had this been Apple by now we would have had a smug self congratulatory press release detailing the millions of units sold in the opening week. Selling out in less than 30 minutes, however, suggests Google is far from shifting millions and it is also far from implementing the same slick supply chain as its Cupertino-based rival. Making a device people want is hard enough, getting the stock in place to meet the demand it generates is in some cases even harder.

What makes this worse is the opportunity being missed because the Google Nexus 4 has the potential to change not just the smartphone sector, but the entire telecommunications industry. The pricing makes purchasing a flagship handset more or less incidental (by comparison a 16GB iPhone 5 costs £529) and it reduces the need for long term contracts, putting the consumer in a position to choose better value SIM-free monthly deals and taking the power away from greedy networks.

And they are greedy. Since the contract-free Nexus 4 sold out on Google Play networks have been quite simply exploiting their customers… This is a sample, to read just how badly customers are being exploited and how rivals can now capitalise on Google’s misjudgements read the full editorial @ TrustedReviews [full article on one page]

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