10 Reasons Why Nexus One Could Tarnish Google's Brand

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-01-12 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Google is one of the most respected and admired brands in the computer industry. But glaring problems with the early stages of the Nexus One smartphone rollout betray a lack of careful planning as well as a lack of experience in handling the introduction of a major new mobile hardware product. Even if Google fixes these problems quickly, the gaffes may have permanently compromised the Nexus One's prospects in the mobile phone market, let alone its chances of overtaking Apple's iPhone as the most popular device on the market. Worst of all, the Nexus One could end up tarnishing Google's reputation as the can-do company with the golden touch.

Now that the Nexus One is available to consumers, those hoping for a sublime experience on par with using an iPhone will be disappointed. Reports are swirling through the market that Google's latest and greatest device is rife with problems, the price is too high for customers' liking and product support is abysmal.

As damaging as that might be to Android's and Google's ability to compete against the iPhone, it might be even worse for Google's brand. Next to Apple, Google is arguably one of the most respected companies in the tech industry. Its name is synonymous with functionality, convenience and customer satisfaction. But the Nexus One could change all that. Unlike Apple, Google didn't adequately work out how it would handle customer service. The purchase process is subpar. Overall, the experience of buying, owning and possibly ditching a Nexus One is abysmal. And it could make some think twice about Google, at least as a mobile technology company.

So let's take a look at just why the Nexus One could change everything for Google.

1. Google is the good company

Google has cultivated a corporate image that portrays it as the "good" force in a battle with Microsoft, Yahoo and all other competitors. Furthermore, it has a reputation as the company with the golden touch because of its nearly unbroken string of successes in the fields of search, advertising and cloud applications. For the most part, users have bought in to that idea. But the Nexus One changes all that. The phone doesn't live up to Google's promises. The support is practically nonexistent. And the sheer cost of owning the device makes some wonder if Google is pricing the device out of the market. Those aren't the traits of a product from a company that focuses on doing what's "right."

2. The Nexus One is expensive

The next issue is that the Nexus One is expensive. Unlike the iPhone, which is relatively affordable as smartphones go, the Nexus One can set users back $529-if they don't want to use T-Mobile's network. When a consumer compares the iPhone and all its applications with the Nexus One and its issues, that $529 makes Google look even worse.

3. Getting off of the Nexus One is costly

Anyone who buys Google's smartphone should be aware of the cost of ditching a Nexus One for another device. If a user decides that the Nexus One isn't for him or her within four months of getting the cheaper, $179 T-Mobile model, users will be hit with a $350 early termination fee paid to Google, plus a $200 fee to T-Mobile. By charging $350, Google is obviously trying to protect itself against those who plan to "game the system" by buying a discounted model and moving it to AT&T after purchase, but it looks bad nonetheless. Google should have thought about that before it publicized its sales pitch.

4. Tech support is abysmal

If users have a problem with the Nexus One, they currently don't know where to turn. Those calling T-Mobile for help are being told to contact HTC, the phone's maker. When users contact HTC, they're being told in many cases that it's a problem with T-Mobile's service or Google's issue to address. If they contact Google, support is coming via e-mail rather than over the telephone. If Google keeps up this kind of support, it can't expect its squeaky clean image to stay that way for much longer. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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