Less than two months after its release, the Google Nexus 4 should be scrapping with the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 to become the darling of smartphone fanatics’ affections.
Instead, hamstrung by seemingly insurmountable supply issues and network prices that far outstrip the SIM-free cost, it appears the flagship Android phone is finished. LG and Google have descended into open warfare, with each apparently blaming the other for the phone’s chronic lack of availability.
Google’s UK MD, Dan Cobley, wrote a post on Google+ before Christmas which essentially claimed it was all LG’s fault.
“Supplies from the manufacturer are scarce, and our communication has been flawed. I can offer an unreserved apology for our service and communication failures in this process,” Cobley claimed.
It’s taken a while, but LG has this week hit back, first telling the Korean media that there was “no problem” with supplies and since through an interview with French site challengers.fr.
LG’s French communications boss Cathy Robin said that the company was still committed to making the Nexus 4, scotching rumours that production was being wound down and doing little to downplay future Nexus phones, specifically a 5-inch model.
But this came after Robin said that Google had underestimated demand in some territories and overestimated it in others.
That’s a pretty serious allegation. But even if it’s true, Google is hardly going to take kindly to such a public slap down.
LG has far more to lose from this than Google, even if manufacturers are increasingly start to call the tune with Android, rather than the other way around. Google has got options when it comes to other Nexus partners. It already works with Asus and has hooked-up with Samsung and HTC in the past.
There’ll be no shortage of takers for the next Nexus project and you can be sure that they won’t make the faux pas of speaking out publicly about any concerns, even if they do have issues with Google.
The Nexus 4 is now up for grabs from networks, but at a price that way exceeds Google’s pricing (£449.95 for a SIM-free Nexus 4 from Carphone Warehouse is criminal when you can get the same 16GB model for £279 from Google).
There doesn’t appear to be any light at the tunnel and with Mobile World Congress approaching fast, the Nexus 4 will soon be yesterday’s news.
Even if LG and Google can patch up their differences and get supply fixed within days, it still won’t enough to rescue what should have been the future of Android devices.
Ultimately, both LG and Google are to blame. How neither could see that a phone which cost as much as £200 less SIM-free than its nearest rivals wouldn’t be an instant sellout is baffling.
Google can apply the lessons it’s learned to its next device, but LG could suffer long lasting damage following this sorry debacle.