How Can I Help You – By Email? Google’s Nexus One Customer Service Side Step
“Smartphone” wasn’t good enough for Google today. With its announcement of a new wireless device it calls the Nexus One, Google has decided the time is right for a “superphone.” Whether the phone qualifies as “super” has been questioned by some analysts who see the phone’s feature set as underwhelming considering the length of time the Nexus One project has been underway.
For instance, the speech recognition features have been available on Windows Mobile phones for several years. Nevertheless, the fact that the phone will be available both in unlocked (Google to Consumer, or “G2C”) form or bundled with a carrier contract from T-Mobile (and, later, Verizon – it’s listed on Google’s order form) makes it a potential threat to iPhone dominance.
Nexus One's core business propositions? The unlocked option is popular with service hoppers who prefer to defect to a carrier with better service, or newer technology, or better neighborhood reception. Developers see downstream market potential as improved when multiple carriers and phones support a platform – such as is the case with Android, the operating system used on the Nexus One.
While iPhone vs. Android debates still rage, the iPhone juggernaut is unlikely to be torpedoed soon. Still, considering that Android is less than 18 months old, the Nexus One presents Apple with a formidable business challenge that may give them additional leverage with AT&T Wireless.
Look more closely and it’s obvious that Google has adopted the Amazon model of selling product – i.e., sell without a call center (at least no readily available one) and without prominently displaying phone numbers. Instead it’s relying heavily on FAQs and customer-to-customer interactions. The success of the Amazon model shows that this can work for most products and some services. Amazon sells phones, but can this model work for Google, whose own applications and operating system are humming away under the Nexus One’s shiny new skin?Continued on the next page