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What it will take for the Nexus Q to be successful.

News broke that Google was going to delay the launch of the Nexus Q to improve its product before the launch. This is almost definitely due to the negative press and public reception of the device. In fact, gdgt awarded the device a lowly 56 with the conclusion to pass on it. (3rd lowest score in gdgt history I believe)

So with Google now taking the time to re-engineer, I was thinking what it would need to be successful, and I am interested in your opinions on this too.

I feel that the Nexus Q would benefit from the following:

1. Lower Price

This is a huge sticking point for the consumer. At $299, this puts it well above the price of competitors such as the Apple TV. I realize that manufacturing technology isn't cheap, but with the current price/feature set. It is no contest.

2. A proper international launch

Guess what Google, if you are going to try fighting the products on the market, you can't restrict your releases to the United States anymore. Now I am sure there is some legal reason or other related problems in your way, but your competitors are playing in a much larger market. The Apple TV is available in 63 countries, while the Nexus Q was launching in 1 (United States)

3. Software Overhaul

Yep, this is unavoidable. Really you could only access content through Google Play, which is very limited. They need to focus on getting content consumption apps. If it is on the internet, there should be a way to access it. Picasa, Flickr, Hulu, Netfix are all essentials that need to be in a device targeted at media consumption.

4. Accessory support (maybe)

The Nexus Q utilizes NFC and has a micro USB port. This could allow for some really cool tricks or accessories. There is potential there, it just has to be utilized.

Something I hope they don't remove

is the built in amplifier. This allows for decent speakers to be used without an external sound system. Although you may choose to send the audio from the Q into your home theater system, having an onboard amplifier makes the Nexus Q much more practical for other rooms of the house (kitchen or living room perhaps?)

So that is my quick thoughts on where the Nexus Q needs to be for its proper launch. What do you think?

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8 replies

If they open it up to support more services and media then it has more appeal at that price but right now locking it into Google services only is pretty weak IMO. I don't like Google Music and would probably never use it for YouTube but if I could just leave it sitting on a table with a decent pair of satellites and use whatever service I want I'd consider it.
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I don't find Google Music so bad. Then again, I don't have a NAS in my home so I use it as sort of a "poor-man" music NAS. Music uploads automatically from iTunes and I can access it on any internet connected computer as well as my Nexus 7.

I am sure iCloud is pretty well the same deal, and would work better for someone entrenched in that ecosystem. Between my iPod, Nexus 7, and BlackBerry I am pretty platform-neutral and there isn't an elegant solution to handle all 3.*

I agree that it's best strength is a compact system that could be left running headless in am auxiliary room. That's why I want to keep the amplifier in it.

*Google Music technically works in the BlackBerry and iOS browser through HTML5. Yet it is buggy and dreadful to use.
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I just personally don't like the app or web service. I also am close to exceeding the number of songs allowed so it wouldn't work long term, plus I already have Subsonic running for local music. It'd be nice to use Rdio, Spotify or whatever music player (like Subsonic) with it.
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I'm glad Google decided to delay the device, there are a TON of things they need to fix if they want it to be a success. Like you, the two glaring issues I see are price and software.

When it was $299, it was more expensive than their new flagship Nexus 7 tablet. That just seemed completely way off. Plus, with the Apple TV going for as low as $99 and Roku boxes (various models) going for as low as $59 Google seriously needs to lower it to <$150 if they want any chance at all to compete.

As for software, I read that it only worked with Google Music/Play Store/and YouTube, while the ATV and Roku's all have access to tens of other content services for much less money. It didn't even have Netflix/Hulu+. Terrible, really.

I really hope they learn from their brief mistake here and listen to what the critics say for the proper launch, as I think it has a lot of possibility and a really nice design.
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I'm sorry, but the only thing I disagree with you about is the internal amplifier. It's the #1 biggest problem with the device because it places the thing squarely in a market segment that doesn't exist. Namely, people who have nice speakers who don't already have those speakers hooked up to something else. Oh, AND those people have to only have Android devices. It seems aimed at about 200 people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually what some might call a Google fanboy, but the Q is a phenomenal misfire on Google's part. It baffles me that they ever thought this specific product was a good idea. It truly is the iPod Hi-Fi of 2012.
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Even if people have their own speaker system, the nexus Q does not force them to use its built in amplifier. It takes nothing away from the consumer by being there (perhaps besides price). However it does make a difference for the consumer that may not have the nicest of sound systems, or wants a decent system in an alternate room.

You are definitely correct that it was a misfire, and Google is owning up to it by delaying and reworking it. Hopefully the new system accessible for people without android devices as well.
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"It takes nothing away from the consumer by being there (perhaps besides price)"

The price is the entire thing, and I don't think the amp is an insignificant part of that price! This is one of the major problems with convergence: not everyone will need everything in one box, so it's better to get multiple components so the buyer has choice. What if someone got this and wanted a better amplifier? Then it's wasted money. It's also wasted money if you don't care about sound and just want to play it through your TV, or they have a receiver to do that work? Either way you have an amp sitting there unused.

What if that amp increases the price $100? I wouldn't be surprised if that and the posts adds that much to the $300 price tag. If so, it seems to me that an amp like that isn't enough for the audiophiles, and is more than people who just want to put music on their TV for a house party.

That's why it bothered me that they released this thing. It just boggled my mind that they thought this product was aimed at any significant part of the market. I could easily see this thing having been released as a tiny Apple TV-sized device that had no rotating ball shape and just did what it's positioned to do (but did it better). I could see that device, compared to Google TV units, selling for very little and making a decent impact. You market it as a $50-75 device that can create and instant party mix, drive that point in your advertising, and I say it's a hit. It might be hard to make it in the US at that point, though
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It needs a complete redesign. A device that won't stack well in the living room is a fail (are you listening, Boxee Box?). Even Apple realizes this!

Can we get a device that does NOT require an Android device as a controller. Maybe something that works with a universal remote? Once again, even Apple figured this one out.

Must include the best implementation of Google TV ever. I can't believe they missed this. This is like the gaffe that is Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus should have been all of what makes "regular" Hulu great, and then some. Same thing here. This should have been a Google TV on steroids - instead it is what exactly? Confusing? Can anyone describe what this is good for in 10 words or less?

All of the above convinced me that the Nexus Q was just a rah-rah device for the Android faithful. And very cool as far as that goes. It is the sort of crazy miss that one expects from Apple; and maybe that was the point?
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