News of one of the greatest missteps in the history of smartphones (exaggeration mine) has spread throughout the Web as most tech journalists have weighed in on Google’s latest attempt to sell a worthwhile communications device.
Google’s misstep was not adding 4G LTE capabilities to the Nexus 4. Which, if it were two years ago, or even one year ago (I’m looking at you iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S) might have been understandable, though certainly when the iPhone 4S was released, LTE was pretty much ready to go. But now? In 2012? When your biggest competitor and the industry leader in profit and mind share (Apple) has LTE on its flagship product?
But wait, there IS an excuse! Google gets a pat on the butt from The Verge, that, for some reason, decided to run with the subtitle, “Sometimes the only winning move is not to play”. So, forfeiting on account of stupidity equals winning? The Verge continues it’s Google-y eyed reporting by trying to make the decision fit into a sly and sort of creepy sentence:
It is a disappointing omission, driven by both Google’s complex philosophical desire to build open devices as well as the fairly simple economics of building a halo product for a small niche of early adopters.
In other words, Google is trying to sell us a turd, telling people its like a yam, then telling us we can’t make candied yams out of it, because it’s actually a turd. In other, other words, Google has ruined my Thanksgiving.
First, Google devices are not “open”. Being carrier unlocked at the outset is a slight convenience for a few nerds and not many others. Unlocked does not equal open. Second, the philosophical desires of Google have nothing to do with openness or the user in general. What does Google care about? Squeezing dimes.
And when you squeeze dimes, you lose dollars.
Next up, in the sentence of over-used tech jargon, “halo product”. Fairly simple economics, as The Verge points out, is about creating a halo product for a small niche of… You know what? Lame. THIS IS THE NEXUS 4! As in, there are three previous models, right? Why would Google decide that its fourth generation flagship product should be the worst smartphone on the market?
I’ll give you some “simple economics” on this — if you make the worst product on the market, you lose. Simple.
Andy Rubin has an
excuse answer for that:
Android head Andy Rubin calls the lack of LTE a “tactical issue,” and cites cost and battery life as major concerns with devices that have to support multiple radios. “A lot of the networks that have deployed LTE haven’t scaled completely yet — they’re hybrid networks […] which means the devices need both radios built into them,” he said. “When we did the Galaxy Nexus with LTE we had to do just that, and it just wasn’t a great user experience.”
Yes, not a great user experience. So Apple, famous for user experience, is not doing it right because it did included 4G LTE in the iPhone 5? Because it has multiple antennas, right? And what’s the battery life comparison of the Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5, I wonder? And how is Apple selling millions of these iPhone 5 units with LTE all over the world? It’s like, people actually want LTE!
If Rubin is so concerned about “tactical issues” shouldn’t he understand that Apple and Samsung are completely running away with the worldwide smartphone market? Shouldn’t he know that 4G LTE compatibility is now a deciding factor for smartphone buyers?
I hate writing so many questions in articles, but this is so incredibly perplexing. Every network is boasting about their LTE speeds and coverage. Any ad for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or even T-Mobile is 4G LTE-driven. But Rubin has decided that LTE hasn’t scaled completely yet. There’s a saying in hockey — skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.
If Rubin’s strategy is to wait for LTE to be totally rolled out before the Nexus supports it, Google will never get a phone worth a damn on the market. I have an iPhone 5 on AT&T and the user experience is incredible. The data speeds I have seen (some greater than local Wi-Fi hotspots) have been tremendous, transforming the way I use my phone. I hear the same thing from other 4G smartphone owners (Apple, Samsung, or otherwise).
The fact of the matter is, Apple is crushing the top-end of the smartphone market. Samsung is mopping up the middle, and a bunch of companies are collecting the scraps at the bottom (Nokia, HTC, maybe a Blackberry or two). Google, is skating full-speed into the smartphone market of 2009.
Not only that, it seems to be intentional. It’s like Andy Rubin was sitting in his office and said to himself, “I need some advice on the mobile space. Let’s see, I could call my buddy Tim Cook over at Apple. No. I could shell out for an international call and hook up with Kwon Oh Hyun at Samsung. No.” Then he went for a walk, saw some guy pop a cassette tape into a Walkman, stopped, and asked him for advice.
Is the Nexus 4 even remotely worth considering as a smartphone purchase? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.