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.
Google Needs to Perform Damage Control Fast
5. The purchasing experience isn’t there
When Google first discussed the Nexus One phone, it touted the way in which consumers would buy it. Rather than enter a carrier’s store, users could simply pick up a Nexus One on Google’s site. It’s a poor experience. Users want to know how the phone feels and how it works. They also have questions that are best answered in a store. The online purchasing experience kicks off the process of owning a Google phone and it’s not a good one.
6. It’s no iPhone
When users finally start using the Nexus One, they find that the device can’t compete on any level with the iPhone. That’s a major problem for Google. If the search giant wants to be considered a major player in the market and satisfy customer desires, it needs to do a better job of working with partners that can actually produce a product that can match the iPhone. Considering the Nexus One can’t, users will only have a harder time viewing Google in a favorable light.
7. Where’s the face-to-face support?
One of the key reasons why the iPhone is so well-received in the marketplace is Apple’s Genius Bar. There, users can get questions answered about their iPhones. They can also work closely with Apple’s geniuses to troubleshoot any problems they might have with their phones. It’s as if Google didn’t even consider this when it released the Nexus One. Apple has done a fine job of streamlining the iPhone-owning experience. Google, on the other hand, has made it a chore. It’s not good.
8. It’s not improving
Complaints about the Nexus One have been coming since the device was released, but only recently has Google made any promises about making changes. However, those improvements aren’t here yet. The longer the device flounders, the more likely that customers will find reasons to go with a competing product. Moreover, the longer Google drags its feet, the less likely that customers will look favorably on the search giant.
9. The Microsoft fear
Google might be a top brand in the tech industry, but it is in danger of following the recent troubled path of Microsoft. The software giant has dealt with serious image issues ever since security outbreaks and poor online strategies started affecting customers on a grand scale. Google might be committing similar blunders of its own that could turn it from the unblemished darling of the tech world into another clumsy, stumbling giant.
10. Customers remember the bad
Worst of all for Google, customers remember the mistakes companies made much longer than they think about all the good they have done. And once a first major mistake is made, it’s entirely possible that the company, regardless of its size, won’t be able to recover. It looks like Google has committed a major blunder with the Nexus One that might be very difficult to correct. So it needs to get to work now.
If it doesn’t make the right moves to fix its mistakes, it’s possible that the respected Google name won’t hold the same kind of clout that it did prior to the Nexus One’s release.