Remember last week when I said that Google was moving its habit of beta launching software, getting tons of users, killing it, then resurrecting elements as different software had now moved into the hardware realm? We’ve now reached the “kill it” stage with the Nexus Q.

Google Nexus Q

This doesn’t come as a huge surprise for a couple of reasons. As Google points out in their email to those who pre-ordered the device, “initial feedback from users [is] that they want Nexus Q to do even more than it does today.” That sentiment also pervaded reviews of the device (including my own).

The fact that the current Nexus Q can only stream content from Google Play and YouTube, not Netflix or Hulu Plus or Pandora or Spotify or even the music and videos physically stored on your phone or tablet, is a big drawback. What consumers want is something that works more like Apple’s AirPlay.

That leads us right into the other reason why this is not a surprise. Google is already on record as saying that they plan to incorporate AirPlay-like functionality into Google TV and that the beta test for this is (drumroll) the Nexus Q.

Why you need a separate device to test what will be a software update for existing devices is a mystery that may never be solved. But it does indicate that, ultimately, Google TV users will reap the benefits from this whole exercise.

Thus we come to the final part of the cycle: rebirth as part of another product. The Nexus Q is the hardware equivalent of Google Wave. What a tragic epitaph.

Will Google actually release the Nexus Q device someday? Perhaps. Honestly, I think the sphere would make an excellent Google TV. Though I’d be happy to just see it work with more third-party apps.

In the meantime, the people who pre-ordered the Q as is will get it for free. This is a lesson kids: always pre-order stuff from Google because you might get it for free if it gets some bad early reviews. I’m kicking myself for not pre-ordering Google Glasses…

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6 replies on “Google’s beta culture infecting the hardware side of the business”

  1. Too bad Google’s beta culture is also affecting Google Play apps where devs just push out updates that hasn’t been tested very well. This causes a bunch of user complaints so the dev hurriedly continues to push out updates and the issues just snowballs. After a while a non-beta class update finally comes out but the cycle will eventually repeat itself.

  2. Why you need a separate device to test what will be a software update for existing devices is a mystery that may never be solved.

    That’s what gets me. Here are highly paid “Googlers” working on these projects and apparently they think, “yeah. . . this thing is awesome as is, let’s push it out the door.”


    Anyone with two live neurons could have told you the Nexus Q was “half-baked” after just five minutes with the device and that it needed full Google TV support before seeing the light of day, but not these geniuses designing this stuff????

  3. The other issue is that, all things being equal, Google would much rather have a hardware company do it right. The nexus line is essentially a series of concept designs.
    If Vizio, OUYA or Rikomagic picks this up and runs with it, it’s all good. Google gets Play sales and search without the need to subsidize the cost

  4. Yay!
    None of this Steve Jobs market research: “None. It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

    I mean that sincerely. The Q as it stood was excellent hardware but crippled software. It wasn’t worth $300 for what it did. On the other hand, it has the potential to be an Uber-MK802, which would be fantastic.
    The beauty of Android and Google is that it is isn’t a “one size fits all” “shove it down your throat” policy. If I want a cheap prepaid Android phone with a slider keyboard, no prob! It’s a “Let a thousand flowers bloom” with frequent harvests as opposed to the Apple monoculture.

  5. I’ve wondered if the OUYA’s recent attention has overshadowed the Nexus Q. Perhaps Google is wishing their device was a little bit more like the OUYA.

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