While Apple is making record breaking profits with the new iPhones, Google keeps bringing us the Nexus; a non premium smartphone, an opportunity extraordinarily missed – year after year. The Nexus project started off offering a high end smartphone (and tablets) – with decent specifications for a very competitive budget price and very limited availability to bump up the demand. It did quite well to begin with, but things went downhill.
In late 2009, the Google smartphone was lighting up the tech blogosphere, the idea was very exciting and generated momentum. Nexus One was launched in early 2010 and sold 20,000 units in the first week, but it didn’t become a smash hit. Ten weeks later, when Google partnered with phone companies and started offering the phone on contract as opposed to website only, it then sold 135,000 units, because people prefer buying handsets in contracts. It was a niche product and the developer community totally loved the idea and embraced it with open arms.
The next model was the Nexus S, it suffered from poor battery life and signal reception. Samsung sold 512,000 Nexus S units between 2011 and 2012. Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy S released in June 2010, which sold 24 million units.
Google tried to piggy back the ever growing and successful Galaxy brand, by putting “Galaxy” before Nexus, slightly different to the conventional naming style for the Nexus product range products so far. After being revealed first on October 19, 2011 it went on sale the following month. Galaxy Nexus launched with Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which was an eagerly waited face-lift with lots of updated features, but Samsung beat Nexus decisively with hardware spec. The Galaxy Nexus wasn’t a big success, thanks to Apple for the patent infringement suit that shortly followed. As a result the import of the Galaxy Nexus was completely banned in the US and Samsung revealed that, at most, it captured 0.5 percent of the market.
Google unveiled the next model of Nexus on October 29 2012, it was a wallet-friendly yet cutting edge device with a spectacular glass-backed design. By mid 2013, Google managed to sell over 3 million units as it was very reasonably priced and not aimed at the top tier market; for that it did very well.
So far so good, but things started to take a toll after the arrival of Nexus 5 in late 2013. LG was subsidised to build Google’s Nexus 5 flagship phone, which not only hampered the sales for LG’s G2 model due to price difference, but also Google was allegedly selling Nexus 5 at a loss to keep the price down. It backfired immensely. LG only sold 2 million units of G2 and Google never revealed the sales figure for nexus 5, some say it was just over 2 million units. Nexus 5 suffered poor battery life and a camera bug which caused frustration worldwide. It was more of a mid market tier handset compared to the previous Nexus 4, which also contributed to the fact that this segment of the market was always heavily congested.
Upon realising that a mid-market sphere was not the ideal place for the Nexus range, Google brought Nexus 6 out in the November of 2014 as a premium phablet (tablet sized phone), or at least it tried to. The Nexus 6 packed a 2.7GHz processor with 3GB RAM and a QHD display in a metallic frame. Olly wrote a brilliant review of it – 6 months on with the Nexus 6, in a nutshell the screen is brilliant, camera is average compared to other flagship phones and the battery is absolutely appalling. Whilst the Nexus 6 was the first device to receive Android
LostThePlot Lollipop, it suffered from some horrendous redesigns. M has highlighted the major Android annoyances that need to go, non removable battery or lack of SD card, annoying pop up messages, messy privacy and control policy, no multi-lockscreen, screw-up disappearance of volume control, and the all important but missing menu button etc. etc. To top of all of these, the Nexus 6 also suffered from a handful of bugs such as boot to black screen, screen burn-in, keyboard won’t pop-up, app switching gets stuck, not receiving calls, expanding battery pack, low call volume and the all time notorious camera bug!
Google’s premium pricing has turned away those who preferred the idea of the Nexus program for Stock Android, but also for a very affordable dev-friendly price. Did the premium price deliver a premium product? The simple answer to that would be NO!
With all the issues highlighted above, Google simply does not have a chance to stand out in the cut-throat top tier market of premium smartphones. Google already has partnered up with Motorola bringing us the next Moto X in Pure Edition. But has anyone seen any decent effort from Google to market it? Or, even try selling it outside of the US?
Perhaps Google does not want to alienate manufacturers by advertising Pure Android but isn’t the risk totally worth it? Since it has less bloat and so everyone recognises how bloatware ruins the pure super-fast experience of it. Or maybe Google cannot be bothered with Nexus Project anymore and is purposefully keeping it in smaller numbers for a limited audience by cancelling out the rest of the mass from experiencing it?
Maybe Google doesn’t realise the potential of Stock Android, or maybe Google doesn’t realise how third-party bloats from OEM skins frustrate customers and has a tendency to drive them away? Google must recognise that there still is a huge market and demand for it, this project is far from over and not a failure.
So what will make Nexus Premium? The answer is pretty simple, get rid of all the annoyance:
- Camera: The Nexus range doesn’t have good cameras because the patents are owned by other companies, they won’t let those patents be on AOSP. Google needs to
invest intobuy them, all of them!
- Battery: Needs to be removable. If the battery is non-removable, then at least pack in a supersize one, and make the phone waterproof. All Nexus phones have had awful battery life!
- Micro SD: We are not always connected, many don’t have unlimited data plans. What if you want to swap phones, or your phone stops rebooting? Having micro SD slot is a must!
- Bugs and bloats: M has already mentioned them, they really need to go. Stock Android is the most flexible Mobile OS and Google has a reputation to keep; fix them ASAP Google!
- Marketing: Marketing may drive Android partners insane, but it’s a risk worth it. What’s the point having such a great product sitting in stock and not advertising it?!
Are we really asking too much from Google here? Apple is already making a monumental profit because of their premium quality product and leading by example. So why can’t we expect the same from Google? Surely Google has a superior Operating System?
While Mountain View is overly stretching it’s barrier with Project Moonshot: Google Glass, Self-Driving
Smash Cars, artificial intelligence and many more (project loon, lens etc), it surely is letting the fans and ultimately itself down; missing an opportunity – every time, year in – year out.
“It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”
― Bruce Lee
They say the first step is the hardest, surely Google is far from giving us a complete Nexus product; surely, it’s far from coming full circle. We still firmly believe that Nexus can one day become the best selling phone in the history, if only Google puts some decent effort into it.
Go Google! Give us a Premium Nexus phone!! The power is yours!!! Geek Power is with you, for the time being at least.
Source Android Authority