Like many technology pundits, I was eager to find out more about the latest Google Android mobile phone, the Nexus One. Although I had been following the other Android phones, I, like many folks, was particularly intrigued with Google’s first foray into hardware design. So, on Tuesday, January 5th, I logged onto watch the Live coverage of Google's Android phone announcement in near real time by Tom Krazit at CNet.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any way to watch the announcement on streaming video, the way Apple always does its big product launches. Instead, Google invited the technology press to attend a closed press conference, from which they all blogged.
I had already downloaded and watched many of the “leaked” demos of the Nexus One, so I knew what to expect about the features and functionality. And, I was happy to learn that T-Mobile would be the first carrier to offer the Nexus One, since I already have a T-Mobile contract for a very old Blackberry that isn’t working very well (makes phone calls on its own and my voice can’t be heard—so it annoys everyone in my phone book with dead air calls and racks up fees in the process!).
I was able to follow the press conference pretty well by refreshing my browser every few minutes to get the latest snippets from Tom Krazit. At the same time, I tweeted and surfed to both the Google Nexus One Web site and the T-Mobile site. That’s where things went south. Although the Nexus One Web site was up and running, the information on it was very minimal. There was absolutely nothing on the T-Mobile site at the time of the launch, nor in the hours that followed. I tried to order the T-Mobile version of the Nexus One from the Google site and was given an uninformative error message.
When I tried to order, this is the error message I got on Jan. 5th and again today!
So I resorted to waiting in a chat line for T-Mobile, from which I was bumped after moving from being 76th in line to 34th in line and had to start back over at 98! Eventually, an agent came onto the chat and was able to tell me what I needed to know: What T-Mobile service level do I need for the Android and how do I get it? She told me that I needed the T-Mobile Even More Individual 500 Plan for $79.99/month. I told her that was fine, please upgrade me. What she didn’t tell me (and I should have figured out), is that that move would knock out my Blackberry service. She also couldn’t tell me how soon I could get my Nexus One or how I would move anything (e.g. contact list) from one platform to the other. All in all, it was a disaster from a customer experience standpoint!
During the 24 hours I’ve had to contemplate whether or not the Nexus One will actually work for me and whether I should complete my order or just fix my Blackberry, buyers’ pre-remorse has set in. I realize I’m not sure that I can live without a keyboard for typing email. I’m pretty fast at thumbing my email. I probably will keep my old Blackberry, use it for email and messaging only, turn off the phone feature, and go back to my old plan. So, both companies lost out.
So did I. I was looking forward to learning the Nexus One and being part of both the Android ecosystem and the Apple ecosystem (I have an iTouch, so I use the apps, not the phone part.) Verizon continues to be my mobile phone provider for voice services. (And, yes, I WOULD like to have a single device, but my need for belt and suspenders in communications, as well as my interest in watching the Apple and Google application ecosystems evolve will keep me juggling devices for another 12 months.)
What should Google and T-Mobile have done?
Nobody should announce a product without first testing all of the scenarios that would-be customers would use. What I should have been able to do was to find a comprehensive set of guided scenarios on both the Google and T-Mobile Web sites. The scenarios offered should have included:
- I am new to T-Mobile, but I want to sign up today and get the phone and the 2-year service plan, what do I need to do?
- I am an existing T-Mobile customer, how do I migrate from one plan to another? How do I migrate from one phone to this one?
The same information should have been accessible from both sites. There should have been ample customer support people available both by phone and chat to help each customer through their migration scenarios. T-Mobile stores should have been ready to answer questions from walk-ins and call-ins and could have helped staff the flooded customer support lines.
When I searched for Nexus One on the T-Mobile site on the day of the launch, nothing came up! Two days after the launch, still no page that explains how to buy it from Google and how to upgrade or buy the service contract to support it! At least the search is now redirecting to something that makes sense, but T-Mobile is not going to close any orders this way!