Nexus Q: Why Google Should Send this Device to the Tech Graveyard

Last week, Google announced it had postponed shipments of its Nexus Q streaming media device, with no date announced for its revival. Google should kill the device and start from scratch. With the Nexus Q, Google did the seemingly impossible: beat out the ill-fated Microsoft Kin phone for the worst hardware ever.

The Nexus Q is a streaming media device that only a geek could love...no, let me take that back, because even a geek would turn up his nose at this expensive, ill-designed monstrosity. It was designed to only play music and video from Google services, only play cloud-based media, have no speakers and no auxiliary input jack. It was going to have no remote; the only way to control it would be with an Android phone or tablet. And its software was bizarre, to say the least, allowing people to change the music other people were listening to remotely over the Internet.

And at a price of $299, it would also have been far more expensive than other media-streaming devices.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg put it best when he told the New York Times:

"The problem is it looks like it was designed by Google engineers for use by Google engineers. It's another one of those solutions in search of a problem. Do I want to change a song with my device at my friend’s? And if my friend wants to switch the song, here’s the remote control."

I don't quite agree with Gartenberg, because I don't believe that even Google engineers would have used it.

It's hard to understand how a kludge of such monumental proportions was even designed at Google, much less given great fanfare at a public release, and then made available for order. Microsoft's awful Kin phone, another member of the Hardware Hall of Shame, wasn't a completely in-house product. It was based on hardware Microsoft bought from another company, and then became of victim of corporate in-fighting.

Google has no such excuse. The Nexus Q was designed in-house from scratch. More baffling is that Google's cloud-based music service is superb, so the company clearly has an understanding of how to handle music. And the Nexus 7 is a great Android-based tablet, so Google clearly has some sense of how to design hardware.

The Nexus Q is Google's latest foray into being the center not just of a home's entertainment, but of all home devices. But it'a a flop. As Forrest analyst James L. McQuivey told the Times:

"They are trying to locate more things in your home, so Google software is continually chugging away in your home environment. But the Q is not enough of anything to be the center of anything."

Google should simply kill the Nexus Q and start from scratch. There's simply nothing about the device worth salvaging.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 40 books, including "How the Internet Works," "Windows XP Hacks," and "Windows Vista in a Nutshell" and "NOOK Tablet: The Missing Manual." You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.

Subscribe to the Now Playing Newsletter

Comments