Posts Tagged: google nexus one

Sep 10

Google’s endurance test

Creative guys used to kill themselves trying to distill a client’s message into a 30-second TV commercial.

Then the Internet set them free. Suddenly they could make their stories as long as necessary.

In fact, some started making their stories longer than necessary. Painfully longer. Only through public humiliation did they learn that restraint is one of the most powerful creative tools.

And now comes Google — apparently unable to resist the siren’s lure.

Over ten of the longest minutes of my life, they stretch a very thin joke to celebrate their new location-aware mobile search. I defy you to make it through the whole thing.

Honestly, I do get the message. There are even a few mildly amusing moments in here. But for the most part, it’s like watching an endless loop of paint drying on grass growing.

Probably not the best way to excite the people you’re trying to reach.

It’s a shame, because Google has actually shown great creative talent with its campaign for Google Search. Now we’re left to figure out which is the aberration: the good Google or the bad Google.

Aug 10

Battle of the philosophies

Any right-thinking person has to believe that competition is good. As Apple and Google go about thrashing one another, we all reap the benefits. And right up front, I do have to admit (gasp) that I’ve now tried a few Android phones, and in my superficial test drive they felt pretty good.

However, the philosophies behind the platforms remain night and day. To some, this means nothing — legitimately, they may only care about the phone in their hand. To others, it means a lot — because it affects the way they the platform is managed and perceived around the world.

Apple, as many point out, is into the control thing. This is exactly why so many people love their iPhones. Apple guarantees the experience by crafting both the OS and the hardware, and polices the App Store to at least attempt some quality control. The dark side of Apple’s approach is the perception that they are stifling freedom. (225,000 apps be damned.)

The world of Android is very different. Google supplies the OS while a legion of manufacturers compete with one another to make the hardware. This guarantees choice. But the dark side is the potential for fragmentation, where certain phones run certain versions of Android, some are missing features, upgrades can be delayed or unavailable, etc.

In fact, it’s hard to classify this as “potential” anymore. In the short time Android phones have been among us, fragmentation is already rearing its ugly head. PC Magazine just observed that the rollout of Android 2.2 was a mess. To paraphrase:

• The first Android 2.2 (Froyo) upgrades to Droid failed to deliver Flash. An upgrade to the upgrade will shortly fix that.
• The overseas Droid (called Milestone) gets Froyo in late Q4, but only in Europe and Korea. Froyo is “under evaluation” for Canada, Latin America and Mexico.
• Motorola phones with pre-2.1 versions of Android won’t get Froyo anytime soon.
• The Motorola Cliq, Cliq XT and Backflip are waiting for Android 2.1, but the Devour won’t get it.
• Owners of the Droid Incredible are still waiting for their upgrade.
• The brand-spanking-new Dell Streak was delivered with Android 1.6 and won’t get an upgrade till the end of the year.
• Samsung Galaxy phones are expected to get Froyo, but no one knows when.
• The only company to “ace” the Froyo launch was … Google. Nexus One users got their upgrades back at the end of June.

Like I said, none of this matters if you love the phone in your hand and could care less about the guy sitting next to you. But if you’re a fan of simplicity — or even democracy — it’s hard not to be turned off by the fragmentation of Android.

Feb 10

Battle of the androids

Now now, Google - play nice

Back when Google launched its Nexus One phone, I thought it was odd that Google had chosen to compete with its own partners.

It’s interesting that after the Droid (the best Android phone) came the Nexus One (the best Android phone), and now, just announced at the Mobile World Congress, we have HTC’s Desire (the best Android phone). And yes, that’s the same HTC that builds Google’s Nexus One.

Of course on one level this is a silly thing to point out. After all, hundreds of PCs run Windows, and the fact is some PCs are better than others for a hundred different reasons. That’s called choice. The only difference is that Microsoft does not manufacture PCs. They don’t serve up the “best” version of the same product they’re asking their partners to make. That’s called evil.

Absolutely, competition is good. Customers benefit as the various Android-makers try to outdo each other with new reasons to buy their own devices. But for all of Google’s “partners,” there is something extremely unholy about competing with the guy who controls the OS your product depends on, and knows every new feature that’s on the drawing board.

It hurts a little to see Google move in this direction. We were all rooting for them for so long. The brainiest, coolest company out there. This is starting to feel like the end of the movie, when we find out that the least likely person in the room turns out to be the serial killer.

Jan 10

Nexus One: the world’s fastest price cut

Everything's fine ... really

Well, that didn’t take long. Just nine days after the launch of the Nexus One phone, Google and T-Mobile announced a $100 price drop. Only catch: it’s not for everyone.

Existing T-Mobile customers only. Account active for 22 months only. Individuals only. No business or family accounts. No phones numbers ending in 7 or 2. Okay, just kidding about the last one — but it doesn’t feel so out of place with the actual restrictions.

In its email to customers, Google is outright cheery: “Good news! The upgrade pricing for existing T-Mobile users with data plans has changed from $379 to $279.”

Not to throw cold water on the merriment, but “good news” like this normally happens only after bad news reaches the CEO’s desk. Like puny first-week sales of 20,000 (vs. iPhone 3GS’s first-week sales of 1.6 million). Or a customer uprising due to lack of tech support.

How different companies respond to similar circumstances is revealing. Remember when the first iPhone met with pricing resistance? Just two months after launch, Apple responded with a price cut. But theirs applied to all customers — $200 off for new purchases and $100 Apple Store coupons for those who’d already bought. Some felt that Apple actually ended up with a net positive for being forthright and fair.

Google and T-Mobile, however, have chosen to zero in on a subset of their customers: upgraders only. It’s as if someone had calculated the least possible thing they could do to help right the ship — which actually diminishes the good will generated by offering a discount in the first place.

Jan 10

Overlooking the obvious

slabInvest in Android. Check. Sign up telco partners for Android. Check. Develop our own Google-branded phone. Check. Rehearse big launch event for Nexus One. Check. Open online store. Check. Set up customer support system. Uh… whoops.

Looks like someone at Google forgot their Boy Scout motto. Thanks to a surprising lack of preparedness, Google’s support forums are now flooded with Nexus One owners searching for answers. No luck with T-Mobile either — they just send you back to Google, where the best you can do is send an email and wait up to 48 hours for a response.

Chalk this up to Google’s rookie status in the hardware biz. It took Apple many years to build a seamless, positive customer path from ads to Apple Store to packaging to post-purchase care. At this point, Google’s phone business is, to be kind, just a wee a bit looser.

No company battling for the hearts and minds of customers can rest on the the laurels of hardware or software. They have to build a rich and happy customer experience. There are many ways Google can do this — but they might start by answering their phone.

Jan 10

The futility of the other Steve

How I wish I was there

He can empty a room as quickly as he fills it. (Photo: Laura Rauch/AP)

For several months, the boys at Google have been working toward January 5th: Nexus One launch day. For several months, Apple has been working toward January 27th: tablet launch day. For several months, Microsoft has been working toward January 6th — and two days later, it’s hard to figure out why.

As near as anyone can tell, it’s because of tradition. Microsoft always gives the keynote at CES. But in this ultra-competitive world, tradition is hardly a reason for Steve Ballmer to stand up and make himself look small.

It pains me to be compassionate to this man, but I imagine it’s a near-impossible job to create front-page news from a few scraps. Microsoft has a number of things to brag about — it’s just that none of them are on the scale of Google unveiling a smartphone or Apple unveiling a tablet.

So our man Steve is left holding the script that says “Make big splash here,” when the genuine splash-makers have purposefully organized their own events to pull the rug out from under him. Surely this week Steve’s competitors are shaking their heads and wondering why this guy makes it so easy for them.

The hot rumor before Ballmer’s speech was that he would present a super-cool HP tablet in an effort to dilute Apple’s pending anouncement. He did so with only a passing mention. Maybe HP realized that this was a no-win situation for them with all the expectations for Apple’s new tablet. If they’re smart, and their tablet is that hot, they’re already putting the finishing touches on plans for their own event — sans Ballmer.

Suggestions for Steve: Be a renegade. Skip the damn show if you haven’t the weaponry. Never go anywhere simply because people expect you to. It’s just Showmanship 101.

Jan 10

Some fine print from Google

nexus_one_asteriskAndy Rubin is the founder of Android and currently VP of Engineering at Google. In the afterglow of the Nexus One unveiling, the Washington Post ran an article noting his similarities to Steve Jobs.

Unfortunately, our friend Andy is actually sounding more like Steve Ballmer.

When asked when existing Android phones will be upgraded to be on par with Nexus One, Andy explained that “older” Android handsets may not be able to support the “full experience” of the newer Android releases — just as older PCs may not be able to run the newest version of Windows.

Come again? I could have sworn that the planet’s entire supply of Android phones was less than six months old. (Turns out HTC, manufacturer of Nexus One, did start making them at the end of 2008.) Whatever, it seems incredibly early to be talking about creeping obsolescence.

Remain calm, Droid enthusiasts. Motorola says you’re definitely getting the upgrade. As for the others, Google says they’ll make the software available within days, but it’s up to each manufacturer to decide when — and if — the update gets rolled out to their devices.

So. If Google was indeed harboring dreams of becoming the Microsoft of the phone world, I’d say they’re well on their way.

This should further fuel the debate over open systems (Android) vs. closed systems (iPhone). Yes, you get a lot more choices when you shoot for ubiquity — but things can get messy quick.

A Nexus One Q&A, including Andy Rubin’s comments, can be found at Computerworld.

Jan 10

Google enters the arena


Stand back — another iPhone killer is born

Droid, Pre, Storm, Cliq — kindly step aside. The real Clash of the Titans is taking shape. In a single day, ad giant Google unveiled the Nexus One while phone giant Apple bought itself a mobile ad company. This should be fun. But first things first. A few instant reactions to Google’s new baby:

Name. Lame. You’ve got a killer brand, a high-end entry into the world’s hottest market, months of global anticipation for a “Google phone” … and you call it what? Ya know, sometimes obvious really is best. Ask iPhone. GooglePhone, Gphone, take your pick. (Oh, and if you really, really had to go this route — and you didn’t — was that “One” really necessary?) Extra points for iPhone before the rumble even starts.

Features. Overall: spotty. Some cool things (better screen than iPhone, 5-megapixel camera, voice-enabled so you can write an email simply by speaking). Some duds (no multi-touch, a microscopic 190MB allotted for downloaded apps, wimpy app store, dismal music player).

OS. Google presented Nexus One as “the best Android device.” Brazen, considering the co-CEO of Motorola was in attendance — presumably with the second-best Android device, Droid, in his pocket. Wouldn’t there be fighting in the streets if Microsoft suddenly started selling “the best Windows computer”? Google says it’s not trying to reap profits from the sales of Nexus One, just “broadening the availability of Android handsets.” Uh huh. Already, Nexus One has features that are merely “coming soon” to other Android phones.

Price. $529 unlocked, $179 with a 2-year T-Mobile “subsidized” contract. To be honest, this industry-wide subsidy thing has always sounded fishy to me. If Apple can haul in the cash selling a 16GB iPod touch for $199, how much more can it cost to add telephony to that? Conspiracy theorists, unite!

Design. Hmm, now where have I seen this look before…

I’m eager to see some real reviews now that Nexus One is among us. I think the competition between former buddies Apple and Google will be good for the industry and riveting to watch. But make no mistake: there will be blood.