Google Nexus – A Missed Opportunity

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.

Nexus One

Nexus 1
Nexus 1 by HTC – GSM Arena

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.

Nexus S

Nexus S by Samsung - GSM Arena
Nexus S by Samsung – GSM Arena

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.

 

 

 Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus
Samsungs Galaxy Nexus -GSM Arena

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.

Nexus 4

Nexus 4
Nexus 4 – GSM Arena

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.

 

 

Nexus 5

Nexus 5
Nexus 5 – GSM Arena

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.

Nexus 6

Nexus 6
Nexus 6 – GSM Arena

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!

The Issue

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.

The Solution

So what will make Nexus Premium? The answer is pretty simple, get rid of all the annoyance:

  1. 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 into buy them, all of them!
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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 MoonshotGoogle 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

Tanim

No comments.

  • I disagree with almost every comment on the N6 – there is volume control and all of the bugs you mention are hardware issues which a proportion of every device will suffer from.

    Lacking an SD card slot or removable battery are entirely subjective omissions – I require neither for instance.

    • mhatti3000

      MOAR battery and SD cards!!!

    • Tanim

      Android needs to invest and buy patents and make them less of an issue with bug-fix, what we are seeing is a complete lack of commitment from Google.

      • How are patents going to help?

        All devices, no matter the OEM, suffer reliability issues in a proportion of units.

        • Tanim

          Wrong, bug fixing isn’t a major overhaul but camera of all Nexus phones suffer terribly. Because the patents are owned by other companies, they won’t let those patents be on AOSP.

  • Pigmi Hyppo

    You basically miss the entire point of the nexus range.

    It isn’t a competitor to the iPhone, nor has it even been
    designed to be one.

    It is a reference device through which Google can
    demonstrate the latest developments to the android ecosystem, and it does that
    perfectly well. It isn’t designed to compete with premium flagships, nor to
    outsell Apple or Samsung, or anyone else. And I don’t think anyone could
    seriously argue that they are priced in a premium way. They are more affordable
    than every other similar device.

    And as for the bugs on the N6, well every device has little
    bugs etc, especially when working with a new, updated version of the OS. That
    one of the reasons Google don’t market the nexus range as a full consumer
    device!

    • mhatti3000

      Even though the Nexus is a reference one, top of the line pure Google devices is an idea that Googe and Android makers should invest on. So it is a missing opportunity.

    • Tanim

      I would have had wholeheartedly agreed with you, if it was not for older Nexus models. Nexus 5 was marked up slightly higher than 4, but 32 GB Nexus 6 is priced at £479 and 64 GB at £549 which undoubtedly is at the premium flagship zone out there. Very sad to see Google opting out for an Apple strategy of selling 32GB extra for more price, what happened to the Micro SD cards?

      But, I think you are right to a certain degree that Google doesn’t market the Nexus range as full consumer device, and there lies the issue; why price so high then?

      Pure Android experience is better than OEM skins and Google is more than capable of making and selling a premium device, there definitely is a market for it which Google is missing out – entirely.

      • Chris

        You ask what happened to Micro SD cards, the answer is actually pretty simple. Consumers want more and more features packed into thinner devices with more screen real estate; space inside the phones casing is at a premium. The space that the SD card occupies could accommodate for something users are more concerned with than internal storage, such as battery capacity.

        In retrospect I had my N5 for nearly 3 years, retired it 2 weeks ago when she took a dive from my lap to the concrete. For nearly 3 years this phone handled all of my needs, better than my prior device (HTC EVO 3D). Sure the EVO 3D had a Micro SD card slot, and I had a 16GB micro SD card that was filled with music, but music streaming services are also a good bit better than they were in the Gingerbread/ICS days when I owned the EVO 3D. Was it a limitation not having the Micro SD slot on my Nexus 5? Absolutely, but the follow up would be that it really was not a negative for me once I started taking advantage modern cloud based technology.

        As far as Google selling premium devices, I completely disagree. Google is not a manufacturer, it will never offer competitive premium devices that will compete with Apple who is a manufacturer. Google should stay out of premium devices completely unless they take on the manufacturing process. Google should instead focus on how it earns its money (ad revenues, and Google Play sales), and offer products that enhance the profitability of their bread and butter (ad revenues). Competitively priced, high spec, mid cost devices that expand the reach of the Android ecosystem, and low cost phones to encourage developers (the intended market of the Nexus line anyway) to purchase the new Nexus every year, with the pitch being less focused on Android updates (My N5 received updates for 3 years, updates alone are hardly compelling reasons for a developer to buy a new device when their old device has the current software), and be more focused on offering the standard of hardware (latest processor/Memory, storage, connectivity, etc) coupled with the updates.

        Focusing on making the Nexus a premium phone is actually the exact opposite purpose of the Nexus program. The Nexus line was never really meant to be a premium device, it was meant to be a test bed for developers, with its premium feature being “fastboot oem unlock”, and easy root, features Apple wouldn’t dream of offering.

        • Tanim

          MicroSD and removal battery are one of the reasons why LG G4 is my current handset. Trouble with cloud is that you keep low quality images on device and without data connection it’s useless.

          You’re quiet right about the Nexus project, that it’s meant to be for developers but they shifted up the gears by going premium handset ie 6P.

          What’s your take on Pixel? Personally I think:

          1. Shape is screaming iPhone out loud..

          2. Ridiculously high priced for a new range premium phone model.

          3. No serious marketing effort, no surprise there then for an ad giant..

          4. Why Pixel? Why not stick to Nexus? Even those who know about Nexus may not know about Pixel right now..

          5. Nexus 5 and 6p had high spec yet didn’t sell as much as iPhone. What make Google think Pixel will do that? Illogical..

          • Chris

            Honestly I think it is brilliant for Google to have a separate Pixel line. The Nexus line has been synonymous with a Google dev phone, known for it’s easy rooting/developing. They did not create the Nexus brand image to be a “premium” brand image.

            As far as the price, I disagree. The $700 range is where the S7 and the iPhone 7 lie, and seems to be the going rate for a top tier phone. The device from what I gather seems to be worthy of flagship pricing.

            With regards to marketing I think Google is doing a much better job at marketing the Pixel line than they were the Nexus line.

            With regards to the Nexus 5 not selling as many units as the iPhone I believe is pretty simple, and comes down to marketing. People see a big price tag and assume quality, especially when comparing it to something that literally in the case of the Nexus 5 and iPhone 5s was a 100% price difference. Additionally Apple does a lot of marketing for their iPhones that Google does not. But the 2 devices couldn’t be more different either. The Nexus is intended to showcase the latest and greatest from Google, giving developers a device that will stay on the latest Android offering for a couple years. It also doesn’t help in the case of the Nexus that you simply couldn’t get one from most carriers. $200 + 2 year contract for an iPhone, or $400 out of pocket with no contract for the Nexus 5.

          • Tanim

            Pixel is overpriced and most likely to sell less than any previous Nexus models.

  • Rich

    My nexus 6 has none of the bugs or glitches u said were so common, and yet mine works perfectly a yr in (almost). The author is correct that the battery life is not very good and could suck if u r running loud vids all day with speakers blaring and qhd screen all way up then yeah. My lg flex had a slightly bigger battery 3500 vs 3220 but it could last 2 days, nexus six usually does on way home. But still greatest phone I’ve ever used, cause it does have turbo charge and wireless charge

    • Tanim

      How fast is the turbo-charge? For the premium price tag of Nexus 6, there are far better phones out there unfortunately. Moto X for example.

  • Rich

    Oh and the screen on nexus 6 makes the whole phone worth it for just that beautiful screen, oh and its waterproof I take mine in shower every day to read flipboard

    • Should point out – it does NOT have an IP rating and should not be submerged in water…

  • Haizum74

    I’ll like this just because you got the Bruce Lee quote in it