Google’s latest attempt at building a device for the general consumer market is, unfortunately in my eyes, another failure. I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but hear me out.
They got the marketing right, the commercial sells it just like it needs to. It hits the right emotional points, and is clever and fun at the same time. I even like the subtle extinguishing of the ‘Fire’ as a poke at Amazon.
I’ve even seen print advertising hitting all the right places. I even want to say they have customer service right. I’ll even dare to say that they got the hardware right. But the Nexus 7 is a fantastic tablet that is it is built like a piece of crap.
You might be wondering “how is it possible that the hardware is good but it’s a piece of crap”. I’m talking about the actual build quality, the thing that holds all of the parts and hardware together. It’s the last essential piece of making a device. These small little details are what’ll really make or break a device in the eyes of the general consumer. Something as small as what epoxy they use, which is my unprofessional opinion >is< the current problem, is the kind of detail that Apple/Steve Jobs will spend hours on solving.
In case you weren’t aware I’m going on my third Nexus 7 tablet and not even a week in and the screen is starting to separate on this unit as well. Interesting point this is happening on the right side instead of the left now, and in case you missed it the first tablet came with a blown speaker. I placed a call to the nice people at the Google Play store and they almost overly insist that this is a “small percentage of units that have a problem” and they were willing to exchange it for yet another unit, they also even offered me the option to get a refund so I could try and pick one up at a local retailer.
Obviously they are trying desperately to save ‘the sale’. I assured him that while I appreciated the variety of options for me to return and exchange the unit. I was not going to be doing it again with this one. I called more to let them know that the problem still exists, and to document it, in case it becomes a bigger issue down the road. I do not have the time, nor the patience to go through exchanging yet another unit.
I’m keeping this unit because I do need an Android device so that I can properly do reviews and because I keep saying this I really, really, really want to love Android so that’s the purpose of this rant.
Google either needs to build these Nexus products themselves, or at the very least to the move manufacturing to the Motorola division that they recently purchased. The Motorola Xoom was a major bust and now that Google owns them, this is the opportunity to straighten that out and Motorola knows how to build quality devices, they just need help with everything else these days.
Google has got to learn to control the quality of the products they build and I don’t want to hear that you get what you pay for in a $200 tablet. You do not expect it to fall apart. The Kindle Fire is $200 and it holds together just fine. Yes, it doesn’t have as good of hardware on the inside but the build quality is still solid.
I know I’m going to be called an Apple fanboy, which I’ve admitted, but I say these things because I want Android/Google to be better. They need to realize that the general population does not have the same tech tolerance level as someone who is heavily into technology. I know several people who were very excited about the Nexus 7, picked it up, had problems and took it back, and then swore off getting another one. Also realize the tablet has not quite made the same impact as far as importance yet as the computer to the general population. Most people still see it as a luxury device. So when someone spends $200 and it starts to fall apart, they question whether or not this is really a device for them. And it taints them from getting anything at that price point, leading them to believe ‘you get what you pay for’.
The Google versus Apple versus Samsung is great entertainment and fodder for those that are into technology. Of course the only ones who really wins are the lawyers involved, but here is a real shocker. The general population doesn’t care. They just want something that works. For example my mother still calls her first smart phone, which was an Android phone, her old iPhone.
Most people can’t even tell you what kind of computer they have. When doing support and I asked people what computer they are using, I generally get and answer like a laptop. If I’m lucky I get Windows or Mac. The reason Jobs kept chanting “it just works” during his presentations, is because it did. And that’s what people wanted to know. Sure >we< want to know the specs, the details, the ins, the outs. When iFix it tears it apart we’re drooling over the components and lusting after knowing how much ram and cache are on board. And we squeal knowing the processor speeds.
But the general population? They don’t care, they just want it to work. There isn’t one moment that I would have even thought about worrying if something I purchase that was made by Apple would fall apart.
I hope I’m wrong but I predict that the Nexus 7 is going to have a big splash and then fade away. I just don’t see it holding a steady pace of sales beyond the ‘new device’ grace period that tends to happen when a tablet gets released.
Next Google need to resolve the issue with fragmentation. This is going to be a bigger challenge considering that Android is an open source system. Something got to be done to try and streamline it so that the average person can understand which version a device is without needing to really focus on comprehension of what the differences are between different builds.
Another example of an issue with fragmentation, more on the hardware side, is that not all apps are compatible with all devices. Or even if the app will load it may not function 100% for example Facebook on the Nexus 7 the camera does not work. Now of course it’s up to Facebook to update the app so that it has support for it, but again this is something that doesn’t generally happen in the iOS ecosystem. And I could see why this as a deterrent for an app developer to even want to dabble on the Android side.
Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jellybean are all great code names for us in the tech world. But it means absolutely nothing to the general public. Sure I was willing to go through a fourth device if I had the time to deal with it, but most people again do not have a high tech tolerance threshold and maybe they would have done one return but I doubt most would go through a third.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Google is going to sell a ton of these tablets but if they want the Nexus brand to really become a household name they are going to need to step up the game a little more. If they want to build loyalty they need people to fall in love and STAY in love with the device. The Nexus 7 had earned a spot in my daily routine, but now because of my experience, and my concern it will stay together I am not going at be carrying it around with me.
So instead of staying a part of my work routine Android has once again fallen to the side and will be more of a novelty device. Just as my ASUS tablet has become basically a single purpose device, I use it as a monitor for my Dropcam, the Nexus 7 is going to be used to test Apps and play games. But it won’t be something I’ll want to rely on.
This is my third Android device that I’ve kept. I have tested a few additional devices and generally they just haven’t hit the mark for one reason or another. The Nexus 7 has taken care of all of those hardware issues and at the very least this may be a turning point for the Android ecosystem. But until the developers really embrace Android, which more and more are each day, Android is going to have a tough battle. And when I mean more developers I mean ones who make games on par with Infinity Blade 2. A sign of that changing is Gameloft’s Asphalt 7 and Vector Unit’s Riptide GP, but there are only a handful of games like that.
And because I like to end on a positive note, I do want to commend Google on the transformation they are undertaking, it is no small task what they are trying to do. Being a leader in the mobile space is a really rough job. There are razor thin margins, hardware vendors issues, developer relations, carrier issues and then are the end users to deal with. On top of all that they have had to learn to have a customer interface beyond just a web site. And I must say that has improved DRAMATICALLY since the first Nexus device was announced back in 2010. And I want to also praise Google for pulling the Nexus Q until its ready for consumers. It’s a good sign they are paying attention.
Also with the recent success of the OUYA Android Game console, expect the Android Market to get ready for a major shift. Developers are going to be able to develop games for mobile devices, tablets and soon the big screen all with one central code base. If OUYA takes off in the consumer market it could be a real boon for the Android Ecosystem as a whole and could create the same type of halo effect the iPod did for Macs. I could even see Google turning the Nexus Q into a potential OUYA competitor.
But I digress maybe in time my Nexus 7 will earn a place back into the routine, I really am hoping to use it to join Hangouts on G+ and I do have it loaded up with a Super Nintendo Emulator with some of the old games I had back in the day. It’s been great revisiting Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong all over again. Although a little tough to play on the touch screen, it brings back great memories of late nights after working at Babbage’s staring at the boob tube working to save the Princess or Zelda.
I’m still a fan of Android, but it’s remaining a mistress that I only toyed with. I can’t commit to it just yet.