We've heard a handful of complaints about Google's Nexus 7 screen dimming and flickering, but they pale in comparison to this story from New York tech industry professional Ed Zitron, who is currently dwelling in Nexus 7 support hell.
I was really excited about the Nexus 7, for just two hundred dollars I could get a device that I could sling in my bag, play with, enjoy mindlessly and then put away --a nicety, a frivolity, something enjoyable and cheap that I wouldn’t worry about.
I went to buy the Nexus 7, and realized I did not have my credit card information stored on the account it logged onto. I have three Google Apps accounts. Naturally, I went to change the account to the right one, and received a lovely error about how I’d tried to start the purchase on another account.
I threw my arms up in annoyance and considered canning the whole purchase, but I soldiered on instead. I didn't know this was an omen.
I entered my credit card information. I bought it. It arrived in one day. I was very impressed.
The Nexus 7 was fast, slick, and looked great with movies. I went to download HBO Go, a great app choice for a device made specifically to consume digital content. Except on a tablet, the app looked like a big blown-up Android phone, with greasy, pixelated images. I tried this again with several other apps that claimed to work on tablets, receiving the disgusting blown-up version again and again.
Eventually I gave up and went to the Play store to spend my $25 on videos. I watched half an episode of Breaking Bad and smiled smugly at my digital aptitude. I took it home and boasted to my (unimpressed) fiancé.
I took it to work with me the next day. I loaded SNES games onto it. I was prepared to use it as it was meant to be used – as a big fat content device that I’d mess around with then slap back in my bag.
Then, out of nowhere, the screen went funny.
It was washed out. It ghosted. It looked bad. In fact, it was unusable. I reset it, both hard and soft, I upgraded the OS, I reinstalled the OS, I let it lose all of its charge. I called Google Support and waited on hold for 50 minutes before giving up.
I emailed support. I waited. I waited. I waited. I waited.
Days passed, and eventually a form letter told me to mail my Nexus 7 back to Google, and that a "simple link" below would let me order a new one. They’d authorize on my AMEX the cost of a new one, and I’d have 30 days to return it. When the link wasn’t there, I emailed them and got a new one. When I went to click it, I got an error.
"There was an issue loading your account information. This is probably just a server hiccup. Try reloading this page in a few minutes..."
In all this time I could have bought an iPad, broken an iPad, got a new iPad, broke that iPad, then got a new iPad. Apple –even Dell– would have given me more than radio silence and broken links, especially for a newly-released, and incredibly popular device.
I can overlook the fact that the Android homescreen doesn't rotate to landscape mode when I rotate the tablet like every single other tablet in existence does. I can overlook the fact that "Play Books," is a ridiculous name for an e-book store. That stuff is irrelevant. The problem is an absolute lack of support. Google hasn’t got the infrastructure for the Nexus 7 – either willfully or accidentally. They have no customer support, they have slow technical support. They have snippy, form-based email responses that do nothing to help or explain.
It’s been two weeks since my Nexus 7 broke, and any excitement I had for anything to do with it, or the Android platform, has evaporated in a cloud of misanthropy and frustration.
How can anyone consider Google a real competitor to Apple when it’s taken them years to get a device out the door that’s even good, let alone an iPad-beater, and they can’t support it?
How is a company with a half-assed tablet OS, a half-assed store and half-assed support able to confidently claim that they have a device that’s ready for market? I have no fanboyism. I don’t care if my device is iOS, Android, Windows RT, or Windows bloody 3.1 – if it provides the experience I want, I’m happy.
Right now, my Nexus 7 doesn’t even provide an experience.
Ed Zitron is a New York-based PR consultant and Forbes columnist. His long list of clients, and his infectious surrealist Twitter banter recently earned him the honorific of "Tech Superstar" by Business Insider.