What the hell, Google?!

January 26, 2013
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Remember the wireless charging orb for the Nexus 4? It was a big part of the reason people wanted the device. No fumbling with cords, just drop it on the charger and go. It was simple, elegant, and a really nice touch for the Nexus line. That was teased before the device even came out, and yet… we wait. We also wait for the device itself. We stare at a giant red “sold out” in the Google Play Store, like a middle finger being waved in our face.

Same ol’ song and dance

The Nexus 4 was released on November 13th, 2012. The Nokia Lumia Windows 8 phone was released about the same time. Why oh why, then, does the Nokia phone already have a wireless charging pad? Not only that, it’s currently available. You can go on the Nokia website, or any other eCommerce site, and pick up a wireless charging pad for your Windows 8 phone right now.

Not only is the wireless charging pad available for the Windows 8 phone, but it’s available in different colors! The Nexus 4 is hard to get, and the wireless orb seems to be a unicorn at this point. We’ve seen the video, sure, but who’s actually seen one? Is it really coming soon, as rumors indicate? Are we destined for a future of camping out at dive bars in sleepy coastal towns, discussing with strangers the time we “saw” the wireless charging orb? Is this thing myth, or is it real?

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Pogo!

Let’s be fair to Google: they don’t actually make the wireless charging orb. They do, however, control the project. The very same way they controlled the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, made by two other manufacturers. If we look at the Nexus 7 as an example we’re left to scratch our heads further. In fact, looking a bit further into the past yields more confusion about the Google charging mystery.

If you have (or had) a Galaxy Nexus, then you’ll see those little connectors on the side. Those are pogo pins, and were supposed to be a revolution in charging technology. We were going to have a dock to set the phone in, and it would be glorious! The greatest charging dock of all time! The phone was released on December 11th, 2011. The dock was “coming soon”, but didn’t see the light of day for another 5-6 months. By then, we were already looking for what was next.

Just don’t do it

Google, if you’re listening, just stop it. Stop with the “look what we can do” stuff. If you’re going to put technology on a device, I want to be able to use it when I get the device. See how Nokia actually has a wireless charging pad? That’s what we want.

To be more accurate, don’t get involved with something if you’re not willing to support it. Don’t put pogo pins on the side of the Nexus 7, then release a dock almost a year later. It’s insulting, really. We’ve already started looking forward to Google I/O, and what may be next in the Nexus lineup. Releasing a dock now is only viable if it fits the next generation as well, which it probably won’t. If the Galaxy Nexus versus the Nexus 4 is any indication, you’ll be dropping pogo pins altogether so the Nexus 7 dock is useless moving forward.

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Manufacturer malfunction?

All Nexus devices are Google driven, but not Google made. While it’s easy to place the blame on the manufacturer, let’s not get too far from center. If Google drives the project, then Google is responsible for what is put out there. I’d love to be able to say “Asus dropped the ball on this one!”, but I can’t. Asus, as a manufacturer fulfilling an order, is simply doing what they’re asked to do.

The pogo pins are different in that they’re on the device, so we can see them plain as day. They stare us in the eye, and we want to know what they’re for. Wireless charging, however, has no physical space on the device. Google could have simply not mentioned it until they were ready to release the charging orb. It would have been a great way to bolster slow sales… if, in fact, there were sales of the Nexus 4.

Diversity

Look at Samsung for guidance, Google. They produce a device, then the accessories. Sometimes they even release them at the same time! Those accessories are widely available, and ready very close to launch. We’ve taken a few shots at the Nexus 4 and 7 here, but let’s talk about the Nexus 10.

The Nexus 10 shall not pass unscathed, but it’s worth noting that a pogo pin charger was available very close to launch. The authenticity of the charger was in question, but it was available about a month after launch. The Nexus 10, while popular, is easily the slowest selling of all the devices, yet has a desirable accessory first. Samsung is known for making great accessories available for their devices, so why wouldn’t Google take a page from their book? This lack of support for accessories only hurts the brand. People like docks, cases, and such. Consumers want diversity. We can’t even get a bumper case for the Nexus 4, and that’s just a piece of plastic! Samsung makes it work, so there is no reason Google can’t.

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Who’s to blame?

While Google and LG love to toss blame around for Nexus 4 availability, the fact is that Google is to blame. They are the project managers, and drive all decisions related to their products. They are in a position to tell the manufacturer what they want, and when. If the manufacturer of the device isn’t in a position to make accessories, there is always the option to outsource that as well.

If we peer into our scrapbook, we find a recent history of empty promises. There is obviously the pogo pin confusion, but remember the magnetic sleep mode on the Nexus 7? Like the iPad, a cover with a magnet could put the Nexus 7 to sleep, then re-awaken it once open. We were teased with that, but nothing official ever came of it. Perhaps Google never obtained the proper licensing to use a patented technology, or maybe they simply didn’t care to support it. There was an official case for the Nexus 7 (which, in true Google accessory fashion, took far too long to see the light of day), but it was cheap and had no function other than to cover the device.

Now what?

Accessories are cool. We like to change it up, and we like to add functionality to our stuff. This lineage of functionality that goes unrequited has simply got to stop. We buy devices in part because of these things like wireless charging, or the cover putting the device to sleep. When the source that makes and/or sells the device isn’t supportive of that functionality, it’s both disappointing and suspect. We begin questioning what is going on, and it feels as though once our money has been taken for the device… we’ll never hear another word.

Google is in charge, so we look to them in this matter. It’s clear, by now, that we’re huge fans of the Nexus line. This issue with accessory availability just has to end, Google. It’s time you start standing behind your products as if they were your products, and not something you commissioned from a manufacturer. The back of my Nexus 4 says “nexus” much larger and more prominently than it says “LG”. Maybe you should take a cue from your own devices and be proud of them. I apologize for the rant, but I’m a little charged up. My phone, however, goes wanting. Then again…

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