Is the Play Store still a beta for Google?

by: Bogdan PetrovanNovember 14, 2012

play store nexus 4 sold out

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.

  • Jose Gurrola

    I got my 16gb in Houston Texas at 4:01 PM central time and I didn’t even wait like everyone else. Just got on play store clicked refresh a couple times and got the add to cart and that was it :-)

    • i think it was smart to wait, they got to weigh out how many they had and some were getting cancelled. I heard of people who did this at 4 pm, 2 pm, 6 pm etc

  • Doan

    I’m not sure that Google is serious about Nexus devices.

    • how can you not be sure.

      • Doan

        They underestimated demand resulting in an overwhelmed Google-run website and a severely limited stock, left out LTE, and skipped out on CDMA, thereby skipping the US’s largest carrier. I can assume why LTE was skipped, but that seems more like a marketing experiment than a marketing strategy, similar to how previous Nexus devices have been handled. Google also seems to pick Nexus developers at random (among top manufacturers), which further makes it look like the Nexus project is still merely an experiment. Nexus phones are always slightly modified versions of a carrier’s current flagship.

        If Google was serious about Nexus, they wouldn’t exclude LTE or a major carrier (especially with a large subscriber base such as Verizon’s), they would pick the manufacturer whom they believe has the potential to deliver the best hardware (and stick with that manufacturer), and they would work with manufacturers to design a device with unique flagship-grade hardware, rather than clone, and slightly modify, an already existing device.

        • The nexus device is the most powerful phone with the best screen you can get. I am still pleased with it, I still have choice of android phones and OS and they are giving more choice.

          • Doan

            Calling the Nexus 4 the most powerful phone is only an assumption. The Nexus 4 has the same specs as the Optimus G that it is cloned from. It has a mere .01 GHz higher clocked CPU than the Galaxy S III (Int) and One X, and .01 Ghz lower clocked CPU than the Note II, with a better GPU. Looking at specs, alone, you can’t determine that the Nexus 4 has the best display.

            A good device, no doubt, but it is no hands-down winner.

          • casinrm

            The Snapdragon S4 Pro is based on Krait which outperforms the A9 architecture per clock cycle. A quad core Krait is more powerful than a quad core A9 which is what the Exynos 4 is based on.

        • sh4d0w.phantom

          Actually the manufacturers aren’t chosen at random. The Verge were invited to their headquaters to see the units and some of the people who worked on the devices came to speak with them on its features and on that matter. Basically, they chose manufacturers that can provide the best hardware at the current time. For example, they chose Samsung to make the Nexus 10 as they had the gorgeous screen they want.

          • they do bids usually from what i hear, companies show them devices and they choose the better ones, they also factor in cost etc

        • On a Clear Day

          Perhaps Google is afraid to actually, truly compete against the established manufacturers and therefore wiling to allow watered down, compromised versions of their Nexus devices?

          Whatever their reasons, I for one, will not be buying the Nexus 4 and wait until someone does “get it right”.

          Google cannot have not known what they were doing – in terms of hamstringing the phone with no LTE, no CDMA, no removable battery and no micro SD card – certainly not when even we who aren’t writing professionally on the subject, but love it – recognize all of these points.

          This had to be a deliberate plan as dumb as the thinking that invariably goes on at Apple to try to do the impossible – control the market – or simply gross incompetence and stupidity.

  • Edward Smith

    Funny how people didn’t notice that the devices became available off and on through out the day. Another site also posted a trick to purchasing them on the Play Store.

    • it was partially because people would immediately cancel, or cancel later and the devices became available again

    • g0vt_h00ker

      Refreshing isn’t a trick

  • Where are these rants when Apple customers can not buy via the site? Where are the unprofessionalism cries when a store or site goes out of stock? This is silly!

    Chris Crocker – LEAVE GOOGLE A-LONE!

    • AndroidBrian

      I’m sure those Rants are on a Apple Authority variant.

      Google shouldn’t be left alone. They screwed up big time. As a customer we should demand perfection and Google should strive for it. Not saying it will happen but let people express there frustrations. Lots of people spent hours online trying to buy a phone and they weren’t able to. They have a right to be angry.

  • Yan Kar

    unless we know the number of phone’s sold its hard to argue.
    Probably the production of nexus 4 started late and and at the same time LG optimus is producing their crappy phone

  • Master Coder

    I for one was extremely disappointed with my terrible experience yesterday on the play store. I had the devices added to my cart, only to get an error message anytime I tried to pay for the order. I’m a huge Google fan, I love the Android operating system but the experience yesterday left a very bitter taste.

  • Prox

    Great article, now we just need to email this to Google and get a response!!!

  • These were exactly the thoughts I had in mind.

  • mintslice

    That Apple likes to polish their products I have no doubt. That Apple’s products are polished is another story all together. Just because something looks nice doesn’t mean it works well. And there are a lot of things about Apple’s products that just don’t work. Apple regularly releases beta quality software and just shows users the bits that look nice. Don’t believe me, go and have a look at Apple’s iPhone5 video and look at the fracturing of the maps when they are showing off flyover. Don’t look where they want you to focus, look at the rest of the picture.

  • AndroidBrian

    Google could avoided this that’s the only thing I’m upset about. Why didn’t they email everyone who asked to be notified and say there is a very limited supply and tell potential buyers a time they can buy it in there regions. Telling people you can buy it around 6-10 is better than making people guess and lose sleep.