Google has made a tradition of betraying users who buy in to their devices and services. And it needs to stop.
When the Google released the Galaxy Nexus in December 2011, it touted the phone as a flagship device that would always receive the latest updates and receive strong support from Mountain View. And so I bought in – for over $300 after activation – with zero hesitation. I didn’t mind that OS updates were slow due to Verizon’s interference, as long as said updates actually arrived.
This week Google announced that Android 4.4 Kit Kat won’t support the Galaxy Nexus, which means one of the primary reasons for buying the phone just went up in flames less than 2 years after its release. Imagine if Microsoft had announced that Windows 8.1 wouldn’t support PCs released before December 2011. People would have a fit. By comparison, Apple’s iOS 7 supports the iPhone 4, which was released 3.25 years earlier. Even Microsoft’s much maligned Surface (RT) has 5 years of guaranteed support all the way out to 2017.
Google claims the announcement is because the Galaxy Nexus’ CPU OEM, Texas Instruments, is no longer in the mobile business and so can’t support the phone. Unfortunately, that excuse doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s the latest example of Google’s gross fundamental misunderstanding of life cycle management that engenders trust in your products. When you release a device or service, you make (contractual) deals to ensure that the supply chain necessary for supporting the released entity stays in place for the device’s life. If Google truly cared about the longevity of the devices and services they offered, they’d have done that. But they didn’t.
And so I find myself with a phone that will never receive another update. My only options are to either upgrade and lose unlimited data (no thanks), or buy a new phone at a whopping $650+ (more than I paid for the far more powerful 1080p laptop I’m writing this on). But I’d bought into the Nexus to avoid this problem in the first place. Thanks a lot, Google.
Other glaring examples of Google’s awful product life cycles:
- The Nexus Q, which lasted all of 4 months from announcement to being dropped.
- The Nexus 4, which shipped without LTE ostensibly due to battery concerns aeons after Samsung and Apple had solved that problem.
- Google Reader, a widely used enterprise product (yes, Reader was listed on Google Apps’ page) which was shut down within 4 months of a terse announcement of its demise.
So what next? I don’t like iOS, so I won’t be getting an iPhone. Windows Phone 8 is great, but it’s far behind Android on apps and has no access to the filesystem hierarchy without root. I use Android because – gasp – it’s the least bad (read: restrictive) mobile OS out there. My next device will probably be an Android one, but it certainly won’t be a Nexus or Motorola phone. I’d very much like a Galaxy Note 3, but right now that’s $849 at full price and Samsung hasn’t announced any definite plans to bring Android 4.4 to it.