Google's Nexus One sales still sluggish
But that's just fine with Mountain View
As Google's Nexus One smartphone celebrates its one-month birthday, word comes that Mountain View has sold a mere 80,000 of the devices.
But if you believe Google's mobility chief Andy Rubin, that number is just fine with him.
When Google's self-described superphone was released, Rubin told GigaOM's Om Malik that he thought Google would sell, "at the very least," 150,000 Nexus One phones - a statement that Malik mildly modified after the phone's 20,000-sale first week to "be happy to sell about 150,000 Nexus One devices."
Rubin was talking about total Nexus One sales, not first-month sales, and so the Googlonian cup is now either half-empty or half-full.
That 80,000 estimate comes from a Dow Jones report citing data from the mobile-market analysts at Flurry, which contrasted the Nexus One sales with the iPhone's 600,000 first month and the Motorola Droid's 525,000.
But those comparisons are off the mark. Both Apple and Moto marketed the bejesus out of their phones - the Droid campaign, for example, was reported to be juiced by a cool $100m. Google, on the other hand, is satisfied with free media buzz and word of mouth to get the word out about the Nexus One.
Plus, the Google phone is sold solely over the web.
That said, the Googlephone's first month hasn't been without its sales-squashing bumps. While Mountain View struggles to get its customer-service ducks in a row, for example, it has found itself beset by a chorus of customer complaints.
There have also been gripes about spotty 3G performance, and the bad press engendered by a US Federal Trade Commission probe into carrier T-Mobile and Google charging double-dip early termination fees.
In fact, that 80,000 figure may be high. It's based on phone usage, and many of the Nexus One phones out there belong to Google employees who received them in late December as a free gift from the company. Google has about 20,000 employees.
All this merely underlines the fact that Google's "superphone" is a test case, an experiment in selling phones online in a store that, as noted during the phone's rollout event, will be joined by Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, Motorola, and - Google hopes - others.
"The Nexus One is simply the first of a series of examples where you can essentially purchase a phone online from one or multiple manufacturers and have it just work," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "We think that's a natural evolution of a particular model."
And those phones will run Android and they will feed Google's ad-juiced business model. As Andy Rubin noted during the Nexus One roll-out: "If you want the best possible Google experience, you'll come to the store, grab the device, and [the Google] advertising model takes off."
Jump-starting that "Google experience" through the sale of 150,000 Nexus Ones is a smart business move - especially when you don't spend $100m on advertising. ®
Given that you were at the Android DEVELOPER labs event, I'd have expected you to have been a little more clued up on how the phone works.
1. The storage space for the apps is for the *executable* only. All the other files go on the SD card. Given that almost all apps are < 10Mb (and most are <1MB) this limit is irrelevant. You mention GTA - it'll install exactly the same way as the 2GB CoPilot app does - a very small bootstrap exe on the device, and everything else on the SD card.
2. The reason there's no close button on apps is because Android manages that for you. Apps are put to sleep and therefore take no resources. I ran my Nexus from Tuesday (when I got it from the Google Dev Lab) to Friday without a single restart (for the multi-touch OTA update) - apps were managed just fine. That's how it's supposed to work.
The rest of your points are either vague or irrelevant. The OS isn't any more technical than the iPhone, and to claim the fonts look cheap is just stupid.
You claim that the only people to get one should be nerds who care about clock speeds, and yet you pull the inaccurate "177mb for apps" argument as a mainstay of your disagreement. You're a classic fanboi, and if you really don't like it, I suggest you give the device back to Google - there's plenty of other people who'd love a device as polished as the Nexus, especially for free.
I've had one for about 3 weeks now, and I'm very happy with it. It only took 4 days to ship to the UK, and so far I haven't been billed for any VAT or import duty. In the time I've had it a LOT of people have commented on it, and four people I know have ordered one as a direct result of seeing mine in action.
I suspect that when this phone finally hits the high street, Droid, and possibly even iPhone, sales will pale in comparison.
Who's the fanboi?
Your points are not exactly comforting, although I suspect you thought it would defuse his criticism.
1. You ability to install a large number of apps seems to be limited by the low memory allocation, even based on your own description. 177Mb may seem like a fair amount, but a few executables of over 10Mb and a few in between 1-10Mb will quickly eat up that storage space.
2. You seem very excited that you managed to run the phone over the weekend with no restarts? I hope this is not the pinnacle of Android success?
"The rest of your points are either vague or irrelevant. The OS isn't any more technical than the iPhone, and to claim the fonts look cheap is just stupid."
- I would guess that you just don't like his criticism and so you dismiss it rather than address it head on. It makes me think he has a point that you carefully attempted to sidestep through ridiculing him.
"You're a classic fanboi"
-Kind of the pot calling the kettle black isn't it? You seem no less the fanboi?
Android developer events are open to anybody that is, or is interested in, developing for Android. I went along to learn. They didn't advertise that you'd get a free phone (wisely), so that was a nice bonus. I was careful to state that I only just got the device and that my normal handset is an iPhone.
1. Apps from the Market install automatically and in their entirety to the internal memory. If they wish they can of their own volition download additional data and write it to the SD. It is simply not true that "all the other files go on the SD card" — files that you specifically write code to place on the SD card go on the SD card, and your membership of the Marketplace does not automatically get you a secure place from which to download them or a way in which to sell them.
2. in summary, if I should launch the built-in IM client then I have no way to quit it. I don't care about the technical stuff underneath. Regardless of the technicalities, "that's how it's supposed to work" isn't a particularly convincing defence against an allegation that something was misdesigned.
An example of Android's overly technical approach to an appliance audience:
On the iPhone there is one place that lists installed apps, which is the same place on which you rearrange apps and the same place from which you uninstall apps. It's all one screen. As a casual user, I therefore understand that the icons there ARE the apps.
On the Android, the top screen is a Windows-style desktop. You can add shortcuts to apps you like there, rearrange them however you want and remove the shortcuts, but they in themselves are not the apps. They're an abstraction that requires me to abandon spatial thinking. All apps are listed in a separate screen through a BlackBerry/Symbian-style horizontal scroller, where they appear in a fixed alphabetical order. So I can think of the apps in there as the actual apps, but I'm not able to arrange them how I want. To uninstall apps I have to drill down through settings, applications, installed applications, tap the one I want to uninstall, tap to uninstall on the next screen and then tap to confirm that.
I don't think you can claim that isn't more technical. There's no consistent metaphor and I'm required to deal with the OS rather than directly with the apps to uninstall.
I guess you're not design minded if you can state that "to claim the fonts look cheap is just stupid". Helvetica is a design classic to the extent that there is even a well-received documentary film to celebrate its 50th anniversary (see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0847817/). It also costs money to license, which is no doubt why Google haven't been able to include it with an open source software stack. In fact, it's why Microsoft don't include it with Windows — they use Arial which is almost indistinguishable from Helvetica at normal screen resolutions and not desperately different on paper.
I don't know what Google use in Android, but it's a long way off both. Go on rallying against the typeface world if it fits the team you want to support, but don't try to claim it's everyone else that's being a fanboy.
An additional complaint that has struck me since the event: the glass or plastic cover they have on the Nexus One is clearly quite cheap and prone to scratching. They even supply a little pocket bag like the iPod socks that Apple used to sell separately to protect the old similarly-scratch attracting iPods. Conversely, the iPhone and the iPod Touch have a huge slab of heft optic-quality glass on the front. I'm sure it adds weight, but I know which I expect to last longer.
Think about it - Google are doing lots of new things here, in particular:
1. Selling an unlocked handset which isn't tied to a carrier direct to consumers
2. Selling something that's paid and requires support (a first for Google)
They could have gone for the big iPad-style PR push, but that would have ended in a major fail because they'd have undoubtedly struggled to keep up with consumer demand and the support overhead.
Google are clearly in this for the long-haul. They have a stake in the iPhone market (their search is all over that platform) so they don't need to kill the iPhone (at least not yet). Much better to slowly - and surely - eat into the Nokia/RIM/Windows Mobile market shares. And for the moment, get enough of a user-base that the developers get interested and start writing quality apps for it (that's why Google are giving away hundreds of N1s this week to the Android Dev Labs) so that by the time the big promos hit the airwaves (e.g., if Vodafone or whoever start marketing the N1 as part of their subsidised deals) the apps are there so that people buy it.
It's a well thought-out, careful and very canny strategy. Okay, so it's different from the "pay hundreds of people to queue outside Stores and sell a million devices in the first weekend" approach that Apple took, but it's no less valid. A kind of tortoise v hare model, or possibly "slowly slowly catchee monkey". :)