Phones Review

Nexus 4 bad business practice or a sorry saga

Under: Google Android, LG
By:Debbie Turner | December 19th, 2012

The Google Nexus 4 made by LG is undoubtedly a great smartphone and you won’t find many people who would dispute that. However the ongoing lack of supplies are threatening to spoil the reputation of this successful device and the situation still goes on. We wonder if Google now regrets choosing LG as the manufacturer for the latest Nexus smartphone and whether the shortages of stock are bad business practice or simply a sorry saga?

When the Nexus 4 was released back in November it was available through the Google Play Store in many regions but many of you will know that it sold out virtually instantly and people found that they weren’t even able to order with a later shipping date. At various points the Nexus 4 has come back into stock in some areas, but all too briefly before stock was obliterated again and put on back-order. In the US consumers were then able to order with several weeks shipping time given while those in the UK were simply told the phone was sold out with not even an option to order for a later date.

We’ve posted plenty of articles about this Nexus 4 supply chronicle and rather than go over all the facts again you can see much more about the background at this link here for previous posts. Recently we told how Google UK and Ireland Managing Director Dan Cobley, had unreservedly apologized for supplies not meeting demand and said that the situation was “unacceptable.” Cobley said that some orders were in the process of being fulfilled now but seemed to lay the blame at the door of LG for the shortages and erratic supplies and also conceded a breakdown in communication.

So who is really to blame for this whole sorry supply saga? Google certainly should have known that the Nexus 4 would be popular, going on previous Nexus device sales. Arguably the Nexus 4 was always going to be one of the most successful so far as not only does it have top-notch specs but the price is extremely competitive so maybe it was simply a case of Google not cottoning on to just how big it would be and not supplying LG with anything near the correct production numbers? Alternatively maybe Google should have investigated more whether LG was up to the job of providing a Nexus device and should have considered other manufacturers such as Samsung or HTC for the job?

Although Nexus devices are always popular we can’t remember any other occasion where several weeks after release customers still can’t even actually order the device. Can you imagine a new iPhone simply listed as being “sold out” with no possible way of ordering one? We think customers would rather be able to place an order, even given a shipping date of several weeks away, than not to be able to order one at all. In the UK at the moment Google Play simply lists both the 8GB Nexus 4 and the 16GB Nexus 4 as ‘sold out,’ and that cannot be a good business move in any way, shape or form.

From readers’ comments to our previous posts about the Nexus 4 and also emails, we are seeing a somewhat mixed response to the lack of Nexus 4 supplies. Although some are willing to wait for however long it takes, many have become fed up with waiting already so ultimately the lack of Nexus 4 stock will cost Google and LG in sales. The lack of communication is what seems to bother many people, sometimes even more than not being able to get their hands on the device, and this is certainly something that Google could have improved upon.

We’d like to hear what readers think about this situation. Do you think that Google or LG is mainly to blame? Are you still waiting for your ordered Nexus 4 to arrive or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who has already received one? Ultimately do you think this was just bad business practice on every level or maybe you think the demand couldn’t have been foreseen and that this is just a sorry saga? Let us know with your comments.

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  • frustratedwithgoogle

    Communication from Google has been less than desirable i’m on the 4-5 weeks wait list since ordering on 04/12 and as such don’t really mind the wait, but every time I’ve contacted Google CSRs they seem more inclined into getting my order cancelled than giving me any sort of credible information. it’s frustrating really, all i want to know is if i’ll be able to get my order in the time quoted because if not i might have to make alternate arrangements with pick that’s all.

  • Richard

    Its clearly LG, no way they wanted mass numbers of Nexus 4′s out competing their identical, much more expensive flagship Optimus G. So they squibbed the production numbers and left Google hanging.

  • Sridhar

    I had requested one of my friends to get this for me. It was ordered on 3rd December and till date there isn’t an update on how close or how far they are from fulfilling the promise of shipping it in 5-6 weeks. It is frankly appalling to see a company so successful and brilliant with many bit fail this bad on what is potentially such a hot selling product.

    • AJ

      And interestingly the same phone (Nexus 4 and not Optimus G) is available on Amazon for 600 bucks! Who is supplying these phones to Amazon?

      Obviously I think it is more than what meets the eye – looks like there is a real nexus between many of big players here :) . What we see / hear in the media, the blame game according to me is mostly an eyewash. Eventually all players want to sell the phone for as high a price as possible.

  • Dave

    I got one from my local O2 shop 2 weeks ago and they have a stock room full of them they say. The O2 contract deal suited me as I was due an upgrade and quite accept that it may not suit others, but does make me wonder if that maybe where the UK stock went at least?

  • David Williams

    “Although Nexus devices are always popular we can’t remember any other occasion where several weeks after release customers still can’t even actually order the device.”

    Errmmm, how about the Nexus 10, for the past few weeks? Built for Google by Samsung and similarly not available to order.

    Spot the common thread here? All mail order companies run out of stock from time to time. It is the way that they deal with the situation that separates the good (Amazon, John Lewis) from the truly terrible. As the retailer, Google should take it on the nose and try to communicate and improve rather than blame their suppliers or any other problems.

    • http://twitter.com/Gnabergasher Gabernasher

      N4 and 10 were released the same day.

  • Chris L

    I think it’s LG.

    Since Google has made the cost so low, both LG ang Big G are making little, if any, profit on the N4. I’m envisioning a scenario in which LG simply chose to go with Google’s lowest acceptable production numbers, and spent the majority of it’s efforts on the Optimus G and other higher profit margin phones.

    Google will get it’s devices–eventually–and pass them on to customers, but LG wants to make more money, not more Nexuses.

    If LG doesn’t pull a one-eighty here and start cranking out N4′s in mass quantaties, I doubt they’ll be in the running when it comes time to choose a fabricator for the Nexus 5.

    As for me? Mine is coming in five to seven weeks. :/

    • Julian

      I just received my Nexus 4. Tried to get in the first set of orders when they put it up for sale in October. I missed then, but was among the early buyers in November when it went back on sale. I think you’re right, there’s a good chance google will pick another manufacturer for its next phone. Either way, next time around Google will look for a written agreement regarding production numbers and look for a contract for specific financial penalties for any failure to live up to the production numbers agreement. They’ll also realize that using Google advertising revenue to artificially lower the prices of smartphones is a reliable way to attract (lots of) customers.

      • Kevin Schotts

        oh a moto nexus rzr hd maxx for me i would gladly drop a sick amount of cash for one

      • Zachary Parker

        The phone went on sale for the first time on November 13. It was announced on October 29.

      • http://twitter.com/Gnabergasher Gabernasher

        How did you order it in October when it was silently announced on Oct 29th with sales starting 11/13?

  • Neo

    This is just poor throughout. Poor from LG, who has a vested interest in not providing the supplies Google is seeking. And poor from Google, who has clearly to develop selling skills. Google communication is simply appalling and the their inability to take orders for future delivery is simply stupid. Wouldn’t that help them figure out the true demand for the product?!

  • ever green

    LG and Google are doing cheap business!!!!!!!!!

  • Julian

    LG and google would rather have the current situation (lots of attention, plenty people who would love to have a Nexus 4 but can’t get one yet) than the situation HP went through with the HP touchpad (made too many, sold them at a loss). Sure, google would love to put a Nexus in everyone’s hands and LG wouldn’t mind taking a bunch of customers away from Samsung/HTC … but they stood to lose money and credibility if they made too many whereas all they lost by making too few was a couple of customers who weren’t willing to pay “full price” for a smart phone. (there are a good number of Nexus 4′s and Optimus G’s available on ebay, just not at prices that undercut the HTC/Samsung competing products)

  • zee

    i have been checking play store every single day. i noticed that 16gb appeared to be add to cart but I want 8gb which is still sold out. i really want a smart phone with good price but I am only going to wait until end of december. if it still be the same story then sorry…. i ll move on and will get either S3 or any other competitive handset in the market.

    • http://twitter.com/Gnabergasher Gabernasher

      So you passed on the 16gb and are instead going to buy the S3?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.fielding2 Mark Fielding

    It’s getting very frustrating! I hope that this is simply teething troubles with Google device delivery because they don’t really have a chance of competing with Samsung and Apple if this is how they manage things in the future.

    • http://twitter.com/Gnabergasher Gabernasher

      They’re not trying to, they’re trying to teach the OEMs how to make a proper device.

  • Tykeinire

    I waited a month since it went on sale, in the end I bought a S3 as I was sick of the non communication from Google as to when stocks would be back in stock. It was a shame 02 were allowed to retail the phone with so much mark up. Lessons have to be learned by all involved, real shame as the Nexus 7 was a totally differnt experience.

  • Manu

    Its so very true i am really fed up of waiting for nexus 4….Planning to switch on to Samsung or HTC

  • webbeetle

    I’m actually wondering if we will EVER get to order a Nexus 4! For late February 2013 we are planning to leave Australia for an unlimited time (= years), and I have no idea how (or rather ‘IF’) Google Play will handle an order with an AUS credit card and billing address and delivery to some other continent (as paranoid as US businesses are about fraudulent orders)…
    Well, in that case we both lose!

  • kc

    Anybody feel like they’re being treated like citizens of a communist country a little? especially lack of information, news, etc. and all we get are propaganda (from google) and conjecture (from consumers) yet nobody knows for sure. kinda funny actually…

    • kc

      also, a simple method to appease the common people would be to put out actual numbers, like how much was actually sold? or available during the sales? but no, they have to keep people on edge until they eventually they give in, really messes up peoples minds (“commies” as they’re called)

  • http://twitter.com/Gnabergasher Gabernasher

    This phone is awesome, shame it’s not available but it’s not meant to be a competitor. It’s there to teach OEMs how to build a proper Android phone. Hopefully OEMs will learn, they probably won’t.

  • Lee

    Ive been watching the UK store since the Nexus 4, 7(3G) and 10 became available.

    Apart from week of release the N4 has had nothing but the “sold out” sign displayed, making it roughly 6 weeks with no stock.

    The same was with the N7 3G, it sold out very quickly, there was a week in early December for about for 5 days it was made available, but they were snapped up immediately when tech websites broadcast their availability. The 8/16 GB quickly followed and neither of those versions could be ordered, with the sign “Sold out” blighting the store page for weeks now.

    The N10 had slightly more availability and out lasted all the other Nexus’s, but since the 2nd week in Dec both the 16 & 32 GB versions have had the “Sold out” sign hung on the page.

    At time of writing this, out of all the N4, 7 & 10′s, only the N7 32GB has been available to back order with varying delivery times, for most of December in the UK store. As others have said I cannot believe Google would allow this to happen at Christmas time, and lay the blame squarely at LG’s doorstep. I would be very surprised if Google chose them to make anything for them again.

  • Duncan

    It’s Google’s fault I’d say – since the same thing happened with the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10 as well as the Nexus 4 (three different manufacturers). They market the hell out of the device and then don’t have the stock to supply demand. Surely after the debacle back in July you’d think they’d actually change their business practices.

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