Summary: Google withdraws its Android-based social streaming media player while it works on "on making it even better."
Google's Nexus Q was unveiled last month at Google's I/O conference and immediately was offered for pre-order in the Google Play store alongside the Nexus 7 tablet.
But the Android-based social streaming media player has now been removed from sale and those who pre-ordered informed that they are receiving a free "preview" device.
What went wrong?
While Google remains tight-lipped, only saying that it has been decided to "postpone the consumer launch of Nexus Q while we work on making it even better," I can probably take a punt as to why.
It strangled itself on its price tag.
When the Nexus Q was unveiled, I was surprised by the price tag that Google had attached to this device -- a whopping $299 -- plus another $399 for the speakers and an insane $49 for a pair of cables to connect the overpriced device to even more overpriced speakers.
Back on the day the Nexus Q was announced, I wrote:
First impressions are that the Nexus Q is both weak compared to the Apple TV and terribly overpriced, in particular the accessories. While the Nexus 7 tablet has a shot at going mainstream, I have serious doubts that the Nexus Q will take off.
The Nexus Q has -- or should that be had? -- quite an impressive hardware spec. It ran Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" and sported an OMAP 4460 dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU with an SGX540 graphics core, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of flash memory storage. It also had a full complement of ports, including Micro HDMI, TOSLink optical audio, Ethernet, and speaker jack connectors, along with a single micro USB port that Google says is for "service and support only". It also featured Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and near-field communications (NFC).
One thing it didn't come with was a remote control. For that you needed an Android smartphone or tablet.
For visual effect, the device also featured 32 RGB perimeter LEDs and a single RGB LED that acts as a mute indicator. It supported apps such as Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV, and, of course, YouTube.
Problem is, as impressive as the hardware specs were, it's essentially little more than an Apple TV aimed at Android users, and the Apple TV sells for a fraction of what Google was asking for the Nexus Q. What made it seem even more overpriced was the fact that it was announced alongside the Nexus 7 tablet which started at $199.
Google made a big deal about the fact that the Nexus Q was designed and manufactured in the U.S., including a number of the device's crucial semiconductor components, but not even this justified the considerable price tag.
My bet is that if we ever see the Nexus Q offered again, it's the price that Google will have made better. And it had better be substantially better.
That said, good on Google for giving those who pre-ordered the overpriced black orb a free unit. If they were willing to take a chance on the $200 device, they deserve the freebie.