Nexus 4 launch is a failure for Google Play

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Nexus 4 launch is a failure for Google Play
Fair warning: we tried to purchase a Nexus 4 from the Google Play Store when it went on sale today in the US, and were unable to purchase one, so there is a fair chance that this article will be a touch angry. That said, the Nexus 4 launch today was a complete failure for the Google Play Store, because our experience was one that many users faced. 

The rumor had been that the Nexus 4 would go on sale at noon EST (9AM PST), but Google jumped the gun, and the actual launch happened somewhere around 11:36AM EST (8:36AM PST). Unfortunately, the launch was anything but smooth. There were no fewer than 6 times when we had a Nexus 4 in our Google Play shopping cart, but we were not able to purchase the device any of those times because of various errors, and we weren't alone. 

First of all, not everyone saw the purchase button upon visiting the Google Play Store. Sometimes, it took a couple refreshes before the "Coming Soon" notification became the "Add to Cart" button. Once the "Add to Cart" button did arrive, the problems got worse. Like us, there were times when users would get all the way through the checkout process before seeing the Google Fail Robot, being told that the order had been cancelled, and asking to "please try again". Other times, the page would simply become unresponsive when clicking the "Proceed" button to begin the checkout, and after refreshing the page to try again, the Nexus 4 had disappeared from the cart without warning or explanation, forcing users to start the process all over again. 

Then, suddenly, refreshing the page would no longer give you an actual product page or shopping cart, but just a plain Google Server error page. This page showed for about 5-10 minutes, and once it reverted back to the Nexus 4 product page, the time was already gone. After just 25 minutes, both the 8GB and 16GB models of the Nexus 4 were sold out. 

As we have been writing this article, we have also been on hold with the Google Play telephone support line, and, we had no idea how long we would be on hold, because the highest estimate the support line gives is "longer than 15 minutes". After 24 minutes on hold, we did reach a human, and were told that the problems extended beyond the Play Store site, which was crashing, but that even internal Google servers were crashing, and the rep we talked to couldn't access certain help systems because of crashes, and they could not place orders for us because of the server problems. We asked what would be the procedure moving forward and were told that the best bet would be to call back in the next 48 hours. 

We fully understand that demand for the Nexus 4 has been staggering, and going into today, we fully expected to come up against server errors and things like that. Server errors are to be expected when any site, even a Google site, is bombarded with the kind of traffic and constant refreshing that was happening once the Nexus 4 went live. Granted, we tend to have a higher expectation from Google, given the company's reputation for uptime, and not having these sorts of issues arise even with huge traffic. We're not angry that the Nexus 4 had a limited supply, or even that the supply ran out so quickly. The issue is that once an item is in your shopping cart, that should be the end of the battle

Imagine that this had happened in a brick and mortar store: you wait in line for a new product, you get inside, you get the product, you go to the checkout, then the cash register breaks, so the manager takes the item that you were going to purchase and puts it back on the shelf, and tells you to try again. So, you fight through the crowd again to get the product, then as you're walking to the checkout, the manager takes the item and puts it back on the shelf, but this time when you go back, the shelf is empty. That's what happened to many people in the Play Store today.

Checking through Twitter and Google+, we were not alone in the troubles we faced. Many others found themselves with a Nexus 4 in their shopping carts, but were not able to successfully complete the purchase. There is no blame to go anywhere but Google. The Play Store should have been able to handle the traffic today, and even if there were a few issues, no one should have been able to get as close to purchasing the device as we did without coming away successful. 

Google certainly needs to beef up the Google Play Store to make sure this never happens again, but beyond that we will be watching Google closely because how the company reacts to this is very important. This isn't just a matter of a device selling out quickly and customers being disappointed. This is a matter of customers being led to believe that they were going to be successful, then having the rug pulled out from under them. We will continue trying to contact Google and let you know as new info comes through.

Related phones

Nexus 4
  • Display 4.7" 768 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 2100 mAh(15.3h talk time)



1. thephoneguy92

Posts: 191; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

Psh, if you don't like server errors, I hope you were not a Halo fan on the day of release.

3. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Imagine the Black Ops 2 servers right now

79. thephoneguy92

Posts: 191; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

Actually, I played Black Ops 2 a bit before work today, and I didn't have any issues. Although I am completely expecting some type of server issues, there always are some, regardless of the game.

151. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

"Google FAIL", matches perfectly with this type of news!!

7. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

As I said in the article, the server errors were expected, the phone disappearing from the shopping cart was the real kick in the nuts.

15. crankyd00d

Posts: 191; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Yes! And I would say the kicking was done by a horse >.

125. KaiTech

Posts: 20; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Check your Google Wallet account at I found a pending transaction, even though I got kicked out 3 times like everyone. Just got an email confirmation 2x Nexus 4's on the way. :P

127. crankyd00d

Posts: 191; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Awesome congrats! I also got to order a Nex4 and Nex10 with the F5+turbo technique haha. Says shipping by Nov 15th :)

130. KaiTech

Posts: 20; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Mine said you will not be charged until order has shipped...I've been charged... :)

154. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

dont get too exited, its just a hold on your money.. its still there. go check your confirmation email, it has a status link in it. 99% chance the last update was "order received". it will ship in the morning and be here thur probably.

21. fervid

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

You must have never tried to buy a BagOfCrap from Woot then...I have had 3-4 actually in my cart after thousands of clicks to buy and had them go away.

66. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

I've been trying to get the BOC for years with no luck.

26. PhenomFaz

Posts: 1236; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

stop complaining PA! Nexus 4 demand is through the roof so get in line

29. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011



Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Thats right.

53. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

The point is that I wasn't just in line, I had the item in my shopping cart, and went through the entire checkout process before it crashed and the phone disappeared. Demand is one thing, a broken store is another completely.

81. bolaG

Posts: 468; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get OVER IT. Man have you ever tried getting on of the lightning deals on Amazon during the black friday sales? That s**t would be in my shopping cart ordered and confirm to then be gone and out of stock. All without notice. So yeah buuuhuuu

92. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I've never had that problem with Amazon. The worst I can say about Black Friday deals is that they have been stolen off of my front porch on delivery, but Amazon quickly replaced them.

88. Hemlocke unregistered

Yeah, it is so frustrating to get to the end of the line (I had two 16GB and a bumper), and click that LAST button to authorize payment, and away it all goes, never to be seen again.

167. PhenomFaz

Posts: 1236; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

The play store goes down just once and you have to ublish an article about it....please that thing is functional every time I log takers sorry man :)

168. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

That one time was a pretty big time

169. PhenomFaz

Posts: 1236; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

Nah not really...and the device is available through a lot of retailers too

170. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Google Play is the exclusive retailer for the Nexus 4 right now. The only other "retailers" that have it are the ones selling it second hand for $600

117. metalpoet unregistered

I got halo 4 the day it came out and had no issues with the servers

134. thephoneguy92

Posts: 191; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

I call bull.

160. Jonathan41

Posts: 532; Member since: Mar 22, 2012

I know tons of people were online but, I had no problems with the Halo 4 servers on launch day. Awesome game.

171. pookiewood

Posts: 631; Member since: Mar 05, 2012

I'm an XBOX fan but isn't that why there is XBOX Live for premium service? Sounds more like a Ripoff if you ask me.

2. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

No LTE is a fail for the Google Nexus 4. I am sorry but when I get the Samsung Galaxy Note II & root that BEAST it will become 1000 times better than Google's Nexus 4. So no thanks Google, your Nexus 4 is a fail in more ways than its launch.

32. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

I agree with most of your comments most of the time but you clearly don't know a damn thing about 42mbps HSPA+. It's almost as good as LTE. And your battery won't get raped. Google did the smart thing. Verizon and Sprint customers will just have to deal with it. Google doesn't want to deal with Verizon's bulls**t.

36. Aeires unregistered

Almost? It is as good, maybe even better than LTE. I'll take the battery friendlier HSPA+ any day. And the bottom line, CDMA just needs to die already. GSM is the world standard, get with it.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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