Google is a curious mix of extremely clever alongside naively stupid.
It for sure understands most there is to know about internet searching and how to monetize that service, but it has tripped over its toes in the past when it comes to its irregular forays into the hardware marketplace.
Its first hardware product – the Nexus One phone – was a disgraceful disaster in terms of a complete lack of thought about how it was supported, and didn’t last long in the marketplace before disappearing – initially to a statement from Google that ‘we’d never see a Nexus Two phone’, a statement made in a way that implied they’d never try selling phones again.
Google was true to its word, in the way that politicians are true to their words. We never saw a Nexus Two phone. But we did see a Nexus S phone (and now a Galaxy Nexus phone too).
Google’s latest foray into hardware is its excitedly awaited Nexus 7 tablet. But it has again shown that it doesn’t really ‘get’ the concept of hardware marketing.
Unlike Apple’s extremely successful product launches, Google failed to give an exact release day, instead saying that the device would ship ‘within two to three weeks’.
Also unlike Apple, it charges shipping on its units – an extra $14 for second day shipping (no other shipping options are offered).
It is hard to say exactly when the units actually were released. In our case, we’d ordered a unit within an hour or so of its announcement, and were confident it would therefore be among the first shipped and received.
For much of last week there was a trickle of devices onto the market, and on Friday, stories started going around about people having received their units, and then it appeared they were also on sale at major electronics stores, too.
But where was ours? It didn’t arrive on Friday, nor on Saturday (Apple would ship products for delivery on Saturday). Neither did it arrive on Monday, by which time all the stocks had been exhausted at local stores. Ours didn’t come until Tuesday afternoon.
What sort of a deal is that? Google charges extra for shipping (and for local state sales tax too), and then makes you wait four and a half days longer than if you simply sashayed up to a store on Friday and bought one off the shelf, without a shipping fee. That’s a very abusive way to treat customers who pre-order, particularly when you think that the alternate method – buying through a retailer – requires Google to pay a retail margin to the retailer.
An Apple launch has an exact day (and even time of day) when the units will go on sale, accompanied with much valuable publicity prior to the event of people camping out waiting to be first in the store to buy one. And Apple’s pre-ordered units arrive at their purchasers on the same launch day. The Google launch had no clear launch date, it just sort of evolved. Why didn’t it try to score the same type of media hype and free publicity that Apple gets every launch?
Note also the comment about retailers quickly selling out. Another thing Google did wrong – it was unable to get adequate supplies to its retailers, curtailing the level of buzz and excitement that could otherwise have been explosively released with a huge ‘wide’ launch. Google has been very close-lipped about the quantities sold (another difference compared to Apple, which gets increasingly boastful with each new model iPhone and iPad, with each successive model setting new sales records), so it is unclear if the out of stock situation is due to woefully low pre-ordering by Google or massively high market demand.
Google’s website is now showing a 3 – 4 week delay if you order a 16GB unit, but the 8GB units are in stock. This is a very unfortunate calculation on Google’s part – the 16GB units are massively more profitable to it than the 8GB units (it is thought Google does little better than breaking even on the 8GB units, but the extra $50 in selling price for the 16GB unit is matched by a mere $7.50 increase in cost price – the other $42.50 is profit).
Time is also critical to Google – currently the Nexus 7 has the market more or less to itself in terms of a high value high performing 7″ tablet, but both Amazon and Apple are believed to be straining every possible corporate muscle in mad rushes to get their competing products to market. Assuming they come up with realistic competitors, Google will see its market share significantly drop at that point, so each day and week it can sell unopposed is extremely valuable to it.
Anyway, with all that as lengthy introduction, is the Nexus 7 any good? Should you buy one? If so, which of the two different models should you choose?
For answers to these and many other questions, please now visit our detailed review of the Google Nexus 7.