I don’t think I’m the only member of the press that feels a bit like Google is toying with us. The Nexus 5 is unlike any other Nexus before it. Never before have we seen so many leaks, so much hype, or even a backing from a public company and a famous candy bar. The company is very clearly trying to build hype behind the phone in any way possible. I have a hard time believing that the leaked press image on its site was on purpose, but there’s something fishy going on here.
The Nexus devices were first sold for developers only. They were designed to provide app makers with the latest build of Android so that apps could be developed and published to the Google Play Store by the time major manufacturers had handsets running the latest version of Android on the market. But somewhere along the way that changed, probably with the affordable and amazing Nexus 7 tablet, though it could have been earlier.
I first noticed it when someone at a restaurant was asking me about the Note 3. “It’s nice,” he said, “but I kind of want to wait to see what the Nexus 5 offers.” He wasn’t a developer and he hadn’t ever owned a Nexus device. He was a doctor, a regular tech consumer – though likely an enthusiast of sorts – and he wanted the latest version of Android. That’s not something I would have heard back when the Nexus S launched.
Instead, I think it’s the increase in popularity of Android that has people interested in what’s coming next from Google. And Google is putting the Nexus brand in front of consumers in a rather subtle way. Head to its Chromebook website, for example, and you’ll see a Nexus 4 plugged into its consumer, not developer, laptop. Go to Best Buy and you may run into a Google kiosk filled with its products. The Nexus brand is changing, and it’s starting to generate chatter among consumers. There’s another company that drives this kind of excitement: Apple.
Apple always launches a new iPhone with its latest version of iOS. And consumers love to see what the new phone will be capable of. Likewise, that’s what the Nexus has become for Google – the latest phone (though not necessarily always with the best hardware) with the very latest software and features that Android has to offer.
Google can beat Apple on price, though. We already know the Nexus 5 may hit the Google Play store for as low as $349. That kind of price for first-class hardware and software is unheard of off contract, but Google’s doing it. The iPhone 5s, by comparison, costs almost twice as much at $649 when purchased without subsidies.
There’s no shortage of hype for this phone, that’s for sure, and as I said earlier, the hype is beginning to hit mainstream consumers. That’s huge for Google. Google knows this, and I think it’s pushing out hype on purpose. We’ve seen awkward and silly ads featuring the Kit Kat candy bar and Android robots. We’ve seen Google+ posts from Google employees suggesting that something so exciting is coming that they can’t sleep. We’ve heard various rumored launch dates. And yet, each time, we end up passing that date and waiting, yet again, for Google’s big announcement.
Is all of this waiting, this baiting I call it, on purpose? I hope not. Though, for Google, it’s almost priceless.