Navigating the hype prior to last week’s release of the Google phone, The Nexus One was a challenge in itself. Would the device be unlocked? Would it include free data only service? Would it be subsidized via advertising?
In the back of my head, though I thought that this was a long shot. The main reason is that Google is not known as a customer service company. They pretty much define the motto “self service.” This has been a great model for selling performance based internet advertising and has helped build many a small and large business.
On the other hand, cellular phone service as it is run here in the US is a different animal. Customers often choose their service carrier based on what device they are interested in using. The carriers in turn subsidize the device and recoup this investment through iron clad multi-year contracts. (This is how an iPhone 3GS is available for $199.00. You are stuck with AT&T for a 2 year contract commitment.)
In other areas, I believe that customers generally pick out the device and then choose a service. In this scenario, they would be buying an unlocked device and then getting a SIM card from whatever carrier met their needs.
When more details came out, it was obvious that a Nexus customer would need a 3G network to run the device, and of course AT&T has the iPhone, so that left one US Carrier, TMobile. I have been a TMO customer multiple times over the years, and I have never been impressed with either their data network nor their voice network. In my experience it was pretty flaky. The thought that TMobile would be able to handle the immense data requirements of a “Superphone” like the Nexus One confused me a bit.
A customer could always throw an AT&T SIM in the Nexus, but it would only work on the AT&T EDGE Network not the AT&T 3G Network due to technical differences.
Some articles are starting to appear on Twitter saying that there are issues. It appears that many of the issues are related to connectivity.
Google only provides email support. That would drive me crazy. It also appears that there is not a clear line between which entity provides various components of service- TMO, HTC (the hardware manufacturer) or Google. I am aware of the bumps in the road for a new product release- it just seems very shortsighted to not have a clear line of response for customer issues especially with a first time product launch, as this release put GOOG into the online commerce space.
Customers always want a “throat to choke,” if necessary.