Google’s Nexus Launch – Lessons for a Tech Giant

Could Google get a big launch wrong? Many are calling the Nexus launch a debacle, I wouldn’t go that far, as all new device launches are fraught with difficulties. Demand, supply and systems overload are problems all popular launches have to deal with. However Google needs to learn some solid lessons from their launch of the new Nexus Devices. But to understand this popularity we need a little backstory, so skip the next two paragraph if you know all about iOS and Android operating systems.

So why are Nexus Devices directly from Google so popular to begin with? To understand the difference you have to understand the major competing platforms. iOS from Apple is strictly controlled, they make the system and the devices (iPad, iPhone etc) and they 100% control the updates, Google’s Android however, is very much like an open platform. Where different manufactures (HTC, Samsung etc) and phone companies create the devices, include the Android Operating System (OS) and then overlay their own software and tools on top of the Android OS.

So as an example, I have had an HTC Thunderbolt Android Phone for over 18 months now, and the Android OS is still stuck at Android OS Version 2.3.4, yet Android’s latest OS version is JellyBean 4.2! As you can see these manufactures put so much of their own rubbish (software) on top of Android’s OS that it just takes too much effort for them to continually upgrade and support the litany of devices they release, which means only the popular ones get updates and even then, they are always way behind the latest version of Android’s OS. Enter Google Nexus. These phones and devices maybe manufactured by Asus, Samsung and LG, but they are managed and distributed directly from Google and best of all they are unlocked. So if you continually want the latest a greatest from Android, devoid of all the ridiculous software additions from the various phone companies, you look to Android devices direct from Google. You may have to pay upfront for the devices but they are amazingly affordable and because they are unlocked you can control the plans you are on with the phone company you choose. So it is a double whammy, you get a high quality device for a great price and you also are first to get the latest versions of the Android OS.

So now let’s get back to the issues of this launch, and why Google have to learn some solid lessons.

Firstly weeks ago we are told to place your email in to be notified at the Google Nexus website, which I did on all devices. Only to find that the notification email is either not sent out or arrived so late that all stock was already sold out on said notification.

Google Fail: This should have given Google a decent indication of demand and people who signed up to be notified were left in the cold.

Second, on launch many users could not reach checkout without system errors, or their cart would mysteriously empty without notice. For me it took several attempts and finally it froze a number of times on checkout. I had ordered two Nexus 4’s and one Nexus 10, yet I had no idea if it went through or not.

Google Fail: Hardly a good showcase for Google Wallet and signals that even big boys can be amateurs with Checkout processes and failed systems checks.

Thirdly, I had to call Google after numerous attempts to find only one Nexus 4 and one Nexus 10 were ordered and separately. How Google Wallet did this checkout gymnastics is beyond me.

Google Fail: Still working on how it did this, maybe Wallet just guesses? Google customer service staff were friendly and apologetic, yet had no answers for anything, except keep trying.

Fourthly, Today many users have now been told their order is on back order for the Nexus 4 Phone, including me. This is especially frustrating since the whole process was a nightmare and then to be finally relieved that you got your oder in and then days later to be told you have to wait weeks (even though it gave you a two day estimate) is a little bit of a kick in the guts!

Google Fail: Whilst this is understandable to some extent the whole system of launching needs a review, a company like Google should have better systems in place for similar launches.

My recommendations:

  • If you have a email sign up notification system and your valued customers comply, they should be first to receive devices if they order within 24 hours of launch
  • As above, they should be given a unique code on early sign up and use this on checkout. That way you reward people for letting you know of demand.
  • If you are going to allow backorder, orders, then allow it, don’t close checkout on selling out of devices.
  • Someone from Google please apologize for this fiasco, it is not the end of the world, but you are probably disappointing your most ardent ‘first adopter’ fans. These are people who love what you have to offer and the same people who are more than likely to do a lot of marketing for you by irreplaceable word of mouth.
  • Get your Customer Service Staff up to date, so they have real firm answers to questions you know are going to come.
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