The Nexus Q was such a misguided product that Google decided to pull the plug before the device was ever released to consumers. Ten years to the day after its introduction at I/O 2012, the $299 media player positioned as a “social streaming device” remains a unique debacle in Google’s hardware story. Say what you will about Google Glass, but the company’s first foray into wearable tech at least got people talking. The Nexus Q, in contrast, was an example of what can happen when a company becomes very lost in its own walled garden.
There were promising aspects to the Q; in hindsight, you can clearly see the groundwork and early DNA of Google’s Chromecast within it. But everything about the execution was fundamentally shortsighted — and a little weird. In the below promo video that Google released on the day it announced the Nexus Q, someone describes the product as “this living alien object.”
“There’s something inside it. It wants to get out.” Totally normal stuff. Sixty seconds into the video, you’ve still got no clue what this thing is or what the hell it even does. Eventually, we learn that the Nexus Q is “a small, Android-powered computer” that can play music or videos from the cloud.
Over-the-top marketing aside, the Nexus Q wasn’t well-received. David Pogue wrote in The New York Times that it was “baffling” and “wildly overbuilt.” We gave it a 5. Reviews from CNET, Engadget, and others all shared the same consensus: for however impressive its hardware was, the Q just didn’t do enough to justify a price so much higher than a Roku or Apple TV at the time. A device that only worked with Google services just wasn’t practical or appealing for many people.
Designed by Google, made in the USA
But damn did it look cool. The Nexus Q genuinely gave off sci-fi vibes (especially when banana plugs and other A/V cables were running out of it) thanks to its orb-shaped industrial design and glowing LED ring. This was long before Amazon’s Echo came along, remember. The Q looked like something that could jack you into the matrix. And it was all original. Unlike other Nexus devices, which were collaborations with partners like LG, Samsung, Asus, Huawei, and others, the Nexus Q was conceptualized entirely by Google.
Most surprising of all is that it was designed and manufactured in the United States. Google never really highlighted or played up the US manufacturing bit — perhaps to avoid any notion that it would become a trend — but it undoubtedly contributed to the Q’s planned $299 price. (The original Moto X would later be assembled in the US, but that initiative didn’t last long.)
Inside the sphere was an “audiophile-grade” 25-watt amplifier that could power…
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