Has Google Stopped Solving Real Problems?

Bravo to Google for launching the Nexus 7 today. As MG Siegler tweeted:

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google now all officially hardware companies.

They’re going through all the right motions of launching a tablet: integrating software with hardware, blowing out their content store, and trying to not rip off the iPad. It’s a Kindle Fire competitor.

Google made one failed assumption though, that everyone wants a tablet merely for wanting a tablet. It didn’t feel like Google’s heart was in making something great. Their heart was in filling a gap in a product matrix. If anything, the Nexus 7 looks more like “a big iPod touch” than the iPad ever did.

The introduction lacked any emotional connection, any spark of “oh my! I have to have this!”, or even a coherent story of why this device will change your life any more than your smartphone or laptop.

No one showed me what problem I need solved in my life.

Changing someone’s behavior is hard. Customers interested in low-priced tablets don’t have the same disposable income as someone that can drop $500 on an iPad, so the case to switch has got to be even bigger.

Google’s case was nonexistant.

They did nothing to address people’s alliegance to past behaviors, or the anxiety of dropping $200 on a luxury device. There’s a behavior change equation that Bob Moesta put together:

Equation of Progress

As Moesta posited: “When we hire a product or service, it’s because the push (F1) + pull (F2) > allegiance to past (F3) + (anxiety) F4.”

Where does the Nexus fit into all this? It’s not even clear there’s a problem I want solved that I can’t already do with my laptop or smartphone.

In the beginning we hired the iPad for irrational reasons: “It’s cool! Apple always makes awesome stuff!”

But as the launch of the new iPad showed us, it’s become a device people are using to create, and often times can be used as a laptop replacement. This week, Shawn Blanc ran a survey of his readers, who keep in mind are heavily skewed toward creative professionals (developers, designers, etc.).

Unbelievably, almost 60% of the readers said they could use the iPad as their only computer! As Shawn pointed out:

Apple has answered, and is answering, the practical question [of how to use the iPad as your primary computer] through iTunes App Store and the plethora of 3rd-party developers. There are hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store that are empowering people to build things and communicate with people in ways that used to be limited only to traditional computers.

The “tablet market” is quickly heading toward an iPod-style market, where the iPad is the unquestioned leader. There simply isn’t enough of a case for someone with less disposable income to invest in an Android tablet.

Google is going to have to sell us on the legitimate problem that needs to be solved to incite change in customers, not just make a really expensive book and magazine reader.

June 27, 2012