Google's Nexus Mistake
Jul 6th 2012 5:21PM
Updated Jul 6th 2012 5:26PM
Forget about worrying about a cheery consensus -- what about a gloomy one?
When it comes to Google's (NAS: GOOG) freshly unveiled Nexus Q content streaming device, there's nearly universal agreement that the device misses the sweet spot. Badly. It seems like I'm not the only one who wasn't impressed with the orb when it was detailed at Google I/O last month. Its limited functionality, superfluous features, and hefty $299 price point all contribute to the Nexus Q's inevitable doom.
Nexus Q. Source: Google.
The Nexus Q includes a built-in amp for high-quality audio streaming, but to a point that's a bit unnecessary for the vast majority of consumers, who may not fully appreciate "audiophile-grade" tunes. In addition, it's closed off to Google's own ecosystem of Android devices that can control it, and Google Play content that it can stream, in a move that makes it a more proprietary product than anything offered even by the king of walled gardens: Apple (NAS: AAPL) .
A gloomy consensus
Just about every review you can find so far on the device recommends avoiding it, despite a few bright spots, such as its industrial design. Here's just a taste:
- The Verge: "With so many buggy features and functionality gaps, the biggest question about the Nexus Q is who it's intended for. Other boxes on the market offer more functionality at lower price points..."
- PCMag: "Its lack of any functionality outside of Google Play and YouTube seems a criminal underuse of a device that is both expensive and overbuilt. ... As it stands, the Nexus Q is simply an overpriced toy for streaming music and, if you really like YouTube videos or buy a lot of movies and TV shows on Google Play, video."
- The New York Times: "The Google Nexus Q Is Baffling ... It's wildly overbuilt for its incredibly limited functions, and far too expensive."
- CNET: "The Google Nexus Q isn't an attractive product for consumers. It's too expensive and really doesn't do that much, even if the quirky hardware is nice."
- TechRadar: "That's a lot to pay for a device that essentially does less than competing solutions. Right now, TechRadar is hard pressed to see any reason why a regular user would plunk down that much money for a device that does... well... so little."
- Gizmodo: "Should I buy it? No."
I was only able to find one positive review on the device, from SlashGear, but that site's buy recommendation came with a rather pricey and specific requisite to qualify: "Is it worth $299 from our perspective? If you're the sort of person who spent $199 on your smartphone and $499 on your tablet when you bought them both in the past year, then yes, the Nexus Q is worth every penny."
Stacking up (poorly)
The Apple TV costs a third of the price, and taps into third-party content services like Netflix, among others, and comes with its own control so it doesn't require a separate iOS device to work. Roku set-top boxes are available for anywhere from $50 to $100 for a high-end model.
At $299, it costs as much as a top-of-the-line Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) Xbox 360 gaming console with 250 GB of storage, a device that has countless more functions, continues to learn more tricks, and is spearheading the software giant's own push into the living room.
The Nexus Q can only be controlled by an Android device. Content isn't streamed directly from any device locally but, rather, from Google's cloud, so the Android gadget that's required to call the shots is little more than a remote control with a fancy screen, and it's the only choice.
Is there a set-top sphere market?
Content sales remain insignificant to Big G, so all the effort put into the Nexus Q may not be particularly fruitful. Its miscellaneous other revenue segment was less than 4% of sales last quarter at $420 million, and even this is primarily derived from "enterprise products, as well as our display advertising management services to advertisers, ad agencies, and publishers," with no mention of content sales.
In addition, the set-top box (or sphere) market itself isn't nearly as large as the smartphone market that Android now dominates. Google's Nexus Q is a Nexus mistake.
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At the time this article was published Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix and Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple. The Fool owns shares of Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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