It’s been a big week for Google, with announcements or demonstrations of their new flagship Android phone, a Chrome OS laptop, the Chrome web store, a new Android version and their ebook store. If you’re looking for more in-depth coverage, Gizmodo has a great rundown of Chrome OS and Engadget has a review of the first Chrome OS laptop. Amidst all these announcements i’m left wondering why they’re doing such a bad job at launching new products.
Exhibit A: The Google Nexus S is probably the most exciting new Android phone since the Nexus One. It has solid tech-specs, it’s the first smartphone to include NFC technology, it’s the first Android phone to ship with Android 2.3 and it’s one of only two Android phones that you can expect to reliably receive system updates for the foreseeable future (ahem). It’s definitely the only Android phone i would consider buying right now and i have a hunch i’m not alone with this sentiment. If they had played their cards right, this could have been the biggest phone announcement since the iPhone 4, yet somehow they seemingly squandered it. Compared to the iPhone 4 announcement, the Nexus S barely registered. One could make an argument that Google doesn’t care about selling hardware and that they don’t want to disrupt their relationships with other major Android handset manufacturers, but still, this seems like a missed opportunity to me.
Exhibit B: The Cr-48 Chrome OS laptop. It’s a beta-laptop (great, these days even hardware launches in beta) for a “pilot program”, which means it’s not for sale, but if you’re incredibly lucky they might give you one for free. If you aren’t lucky, you won’t be able to buy a consumer Chrome OS laptop for another 6 or 7 months, barring any delays. I have a hard time understanding why a company would launch a beta version of a new operating system exclusively tied to a new laptop. If they wanted to keep circulation of their beta OS down, why make such a public announcement in the first place? And if they wanted to get their new OS into the hands of developers and early adopters before launching the first consumer products, why didn’t they just release a disk image of their new OS for download? As it stands, the Cr-48 release seems like a taunt, with Google telling us they’ve got what we want, but we can’t have it. These Cr-48s will sell like hotcakes on eBay.
As it is, it’s really hard to get excited about anything Google announces. It’s all terribly anticlimactic.