Upon its release back in November, the Nexus 4 quickly became an enigma. Offering a stock Android experience and while it’s not a free cellular phone it’s fairly close when it goes for just $300 (off contract!), it was a very, very enticing device. It was also pretty much impossible to buy.
When potential customers could actually get the Google Play store to load and show phones in stock, their orders would mysteriously be canceled. A whole online community sprang to life, centered around people frustrated at how hard it was to buy the phone they coveted. In short, the whole thing was a huge mess. It was the exact opposite of how a company should launch a flagship phone.
There were rumors Google was cautiously holding the phone back due to a fear of upsetting its other hardware partners, including Samsung and HTC. Then there were rumors LG was intentionally slow to manufacture the device because it was more concerned about its other (inferior) phones on the market — or perhaps a next-generation Nexus phone in development. There was a lot of smoke and not a lot of fire.
Now, information is starting to trickle out that explains exactly why the Nexus 4 was (and still is) so hard to obtain. It turns out nothing nefarious was going on, Google just messed up.
In a BGR report from earlier today, Cathy Robin of LG France says Google underestimated the demand for the Nexus 4 — by as much as 10 times.
“Google has presented forecasts calculated according to their previous sales history of Nexus,” Robin said in an interview with the French site Challenges.fr (translated into English). “But there was less demand. … This is why the Nexus 4 is always shown as exhausted and the potential buyers feel they can not buy it.”
If what Robin said is true, it represents a pretty monumental blunder by Google. The company finally produced a Nexus phone that customers actually wanted to buy — in droves — and then it failed to satisfy the vast majority of those customers. The phrase “epic fail” gets used so much that it no longer carries much meaning, but that’s a pretty epic fail.
It will be very interesting to see where Google takes the Nexus program now. If it turns out the shortage really wasn’t LG’s fault, then perhaps LG could still be in line to manufacture the next Nexus device (rumored to be a phone with a five-inch screen and 1080p display). Then again, Google can’t be thrilled about Robin’s quote and the fact that LG deflected all blame its way.