19 May 2010

Google's Nexus One and unsubsidized handsets

I found this item over at the Technology Liberation Front interesting and worth reading. The article points out that the primary cause of Google's failed experiment is Americans' unwillingness to give up subsidies. This may well be largely true, but it fails to capture other aspects of the American telecom environment and this particular experiment that are also contributing factors.

My last two handsets have been unsubsidized and unlocked (by choice), and yes, one of them is a Nexus One. My carrier (AT&T) does not give me a discount for an unsubsidized handset, so I am paying the monthly price assuming I had a subsidized handset. In a sense, then, I am paying twice. I chose this route not for lower cost (obviously) but for flexibility. I am now free to use SIM cards of my choosing and I have a month-to-month contract, which I also like.

The other aspect of the Google experiment is that consumers did not have the opportunity to "try before buy". The brick-and-mortar retail experience does allow this while the virtual one does not. For a complex product like a smart phone, user experience is key (a lesson that Steve Jobs taught us). User experience cannot be assessed via a web page, no matter how well designed it is.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I think that the amount spent on advertising had a lot to do with it, as well. I've read that Verizon has spent 100 million promoting the Droid. However, I don't recall seeing many Nexus One ads (probably none in the main-stream media). The Nexus One was well know in the tech community and no where else.