Is the Play Store still a beta for Google?
Google is well-known for its beta-friendly ways. The folks in Mountain View like to launch products early, even though they are not as polished or feature-rich as they could be. Some, like Gmail and Android, have been wildly successful, while many others, like the ill-fated Google Buzz, were abandoned early and without much regret.
Google’s tolerance to imperfection contrasts to the attitude of its archrival. Apple likes to polish it’s products to perfection (save for a few exceptions, like Maps). But Apple’s perfectionism caused it to fall behind in the feature race, a fact that is increasingly visible with each new iteration of Android and iOS.
So Google’s perpetual beta philosophy is beneficial for innovation, and that is great. But sometimes important things are neglected, and users end up getting screwed. That happened yesterday, with the world launch of the new Nexus 4, Nexus 7 with 3G, and Nexus 10.
All three are amazing devices, and Google is offering them at amazing prices. But, sadly, too many customers that tried to buy them were left with nothing but bitter disappointment.
So, what exactly happened yesterday?
How could Google’s servers buckle under the load of users, when Google has some of the most powerful cloud infrastructure in the world at its fingertips?
How could Google underestimate the demand for the new Nexus devices, when it was clear as day to anyone with a basic understanding of the market that people will flock to buy a top-of-the-line, unlocked smartphone that costs just $300?
(Google did know that the demand for the Nexuses will be huge. That’s why it postponed selling them in Belgium and the Netherlands, so it could satisfy the demand from the other markets. Obviously, it wasn’t enough.)
Demand aside, why wasn’t Google able to set a clear launch hour ahead of the actual launch? And what did it achieve by confusing customers and making them stay up all night hitting the Refresh button? Posts on tech sites? You would’ve got them anyway, Google.
Rant over. I know that staging a major release such as the launch of the Nexus 4/10 poses huge logistic challenges. But if it’s serious about its goals, Google must pay more attention to the end users. The Play Store cannot be a beta anymore.