This is really starting to irk me. Yet another great Android device comes to market and, as usual, the launch was botched, marring the public Android perception and proving once again that Google ain’t no Apple (for better AND worse).
This isn’t the first time I’ve been unhappy with an Android launch (see my rants about the ASUS transformer launch here. (Quick aside: I take my words back at the end of the article about being concerned by ASUS’s support of the device. That end has been wonderful and I wish more manufacturers would keep up. I’m looking at you Motorola…). But this is the newest Nexus device for Christ sakes! This is the device that is supposed to embody pure stock Android; essentially the best the platform has to offer before carriers get in and muddy the waters with their bloatware, superfluous software and, now, Carrier IQ. This latest Nexus launch ruined all that and here’s why:
Bloatware. That ugly word that describes the pre-packaged software that comes with a lot of devices being sold by a particular carrier. The Android Nexus devices were supposed to be free of this stuff. Sure there are only two apps thrown in (My Verizon Mobile and Verizon’s backup assistant), but its more the violation of principle and the Nexus methodology at stake here than any particular application. The Nexus devices are supposed to be free of all bloatware and pre-installed software. Keep it that way. I’d hate to see the 6th iteration of the Nexus line shipping with MotoBlur (or even worse TouchWiz).
I have to go back and look up exact dates here, but the Galaxy Nexus timeline looks roughly as follows:
- Google Announces Ice Cream Sandwich; shows off some of its features
- Google Delays Galaxy Nexus announcement to respect the passing of Steve Jobs
- Google finally officially announces Galaxy Nexus in Hong Kong
- Everyone wonders where the heck the Galaxy Nexus is for almost six weeks
- Rumors fly that the Nexus is launching later this we— oh wait just kidding
- Repeat last step several times
- Verizon is selling the Galaxy Nexus starting three days after the day before yesterday! Oh wait… that’s tomorrow.
Critics will point out that the GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus has been available for a few weeks now, at which I will ask them how many of those devices sold? Until Verizon officially started selling the Galaxy Nexus, the device has not been considered ready for public consumption, which is the date that people really care about. You can’t harbor hardware in beta forever. Sorry, the market is not that forgiving.
What I’m really getting at is that the device should have been ready to go right along with the announcement of Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy Nexus is Ice Cream Sandwich’s flagship device, right? So why isn’t it ready to go when the ICS hype was first peaking? While all the techies and some not-so-technical people were salivating over the new operating system with its new features, that was the prime time to release the device. I know software delays and hiccups happen, but Google is a big boy; they should have been able to account for these things. If that means lighting a fire under Verizon’s tail to make sure they are ready to go ASAP, or God forbid nixing the exclusivity BS in favor of a fair market situation in which whoever could effectively port ICS the quickest and best gets to sell it first, so be it. What happens when Apple announces the ‘next big thing’? They’re already got a release date and distribution channels set up so the public knows when and where they can get their hands on the newest shiny thing. They capitalize on the market hype. That’s why their devices sell so much better. Its this minute attention to detail (or lack thereof) that leaves IOS feeling like a polished product and Android as some engineer’s side project they’ve worked on (hard too mind you, dumping many hours of mountain dew, sweat, and coding into) while stashed in their mother’s basement. Sorry I had to go there, but someone’s got to say it. Step your game up Google.
Which brings me to another point. Where was the marketing for the Galaxy Nexus? The actual launch date came as a surprise to me, and I’m sure it did the same to many others. Why weren’t there more definitive advertisements saying THIS DEVICE WILL BE RELEASED ON XX/XX/XXXX? Lets take a look at another launch done right: Skyrim (its what all my friends have been talking about since forever ago. Bear with me). Everyone knew the date Skyrim came out months in advance of the actual release. People planned social events around the release of this video game y’all!!. I strongly believe that if Android devices are marketed properly and the software experience continues to progress as it has been, a Nexus launch could generate similar hype.
The release of the Galaxy Nexus had great potential. Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) brings some really great features to Android, and this phone was to be the first to show all that off. The Galaxy Nexus was supposed to be ICS done right; it was supposed to set the bar for all subsequent ICS devices to be released. It hasn’t. I really hope Google gets its act together with respect to the finer points of selling tech hardware (as opposed to offering software as a service) like Apple has done. Of course that leads us down the road in which one argues that Google is not selling Android hardware, they are just selling the software to promote usage of their other products. But that’s an argument for another day. Maybe we’ll discuss it in the backchannels (via via twitter or Google Plus)