I recently purchased the Nexus 5 from Google Play. Typically cell phone distribution comes from the OEM’s channel partner – the cell phone service provider (e.g. Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc.). In this instance I was able to purchase the device direct from the manufacturer (Google) on the day the device was launched. This is usually a very different experience because carrier partners usually have exclusivity contracts that require the Manufacturer to sell only through carrier channels (e.g. Verizon’s website or stores) for a specific period of time. It was a pleasant experience to be able to purchase the device in a no pressure environment that was not constantly barraging me with up-sells to my mobile plan.
That said, Google did not take advantage of the sales channel they were working in – the web. There was no way to sign up for email notifications of when the phone went on sale. Also, they never announced a launch date – I just happened to be reading a tech blog when google released the phone and decided to purchase it on a whim. Very few people will do this for a $350 device. Another example of their weak on-line sales strategy is that when I was searching (Googling) for the phone online, the top search results were for technology articles about the phone and not the sales page. I would have expected them to purchase the keyword “Nexus 5” from AdSense – their own service. Ultimately, I had to use a link from a tech blog to get to their purchase page. It is pretty embarrassing for Google to have this much difficulty with their SEO.
Lastly, there were a few parts of the distribution experience that could have been improved. For example, I had to pay extra to have the phone sent to me on 2-day shipping. Seeing as they were not doing distribution through standard channels they were relying pretty heavily on their first customers showing off their devices to friends and family to spur sales. Google should have just factored the cost of 2-day shipping directly into the device cost to get these devices out to the public more quickly. Or better yet, given out free overnight shipping to those people ordering within the first few hours of launch.
All-in-all the Nexus 5 is a great device that I am very happy with it, but I am surprised at all of the missed opportunities that such a large company had in their purchasing and distribution strategies. I expected a better experience from Google.