It's easier to win the lottery than buy Google Nexus 4
The Nexus 4 was anything but a secret long before Google officially raised the curtain on October 29, last year. Impressive specs, affordable price, the promise of timely upgrades, all were compelling arguments as to why I must buy one when sales start. However, Google didn't care about my enthusiasm and had other plans in mind, offering the smartphone only to a limited number of markets. Lucky me, I'm not invited to join the party. So what can I do?
Like any passionate, but patient, enthusiast my first thought was to buy one from the German Play Store, the closest one to my location and with the lowest prices as well, instead of moving to another country or shelling out more than $500 or $600 on eBay. So I asked a colleague of mine to help me out. I would pay for the Nexus 4 and he would send it my way after receiving the package. Easier said than done, obviously, as I shortly found out that Google only accepts credit cards issued in Germany. That was Plan A, by the way. OK, but now what?
No Luck Internationally
Before I move on to Plan B, I must mention that locally the Nexus 4 started to surface at various shady (let's call them that) retailers, a few weeks later. Prices even today still range from $650 to $750 for a 16GB unit, making the Nexus 4 a much more costly affair than it should be. To be honest, the handset's only attractive feature is the low price and if that goes away then it becomes a pointless purchase. Samsung Galaxy S III or Galaxy Note II are much more compelling for the same money. That said...
Moving on to Plan B: finding another online store that sells the Nexus 4. Seeing as Germany is still the closest place where the smartphone can be purchased, I plowed through forums hoping to find at least one shop where it's available. Luckily I found two, MediaMarkt and Saturn, but once I managed to make a mail forwarding account neither of the two had any units in stock. The latter still quotes a three to four week waiting time, while the former did not even list it at the time (but as I write, Nexus 4 is back in stock).
Local Purchase Is a No-Go
The unexpected Plan C: buying one from a local retailer. I regularly check the price of various devices, including Nexus 4. To my surprise, two days ago I found the Holy Grail listed at a not-so-outrageous price, roughly $600. Seeing as in Germany it runs for EUR395, factoring in shipping and basically the lack of a usable warranty, it makes a little bit of sense to pay more just to be safe. At roughly 1 AM I made the order. But then the next morning the retailer's representative calls to say something in the lines of: "Sorry, it's not available just yet, but it's coming at the end of the month. The price may vary, depending on currency but it should go for roughly the same as when you made the order".
Now, imagine more than two months of hoping to buy a Nexus 4, with excitement crushed in a matter of seconds by a single phone call. The way I see it, I'd have a better chance of ordering a luxury car that costs in excess of $100,000 and receive it in less than two months rather than buying a Nexus 4. Sure, I can't afford the auto but even theoretically I could have that chance, whereas I can't say the same thing for a freaking smartphone.
I Am not Alone
Roaming around on the Interwebs reveals a similar issue for many Nexus 4 fans. Some have orders pending since early December, with Google barely managing to send units in mid-January, while others are still waiting for the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation to put the phone back on sale months after it was introduced. I'm fairly certain the Nexus 4 was only available on the Play store only a couple of weeks altogether since November 13, which is plenty disappointing seeing as both Google and LG do have the logistics to ensure a smooth buying experience. Neither is a small boutique, so expectations do run very high.
Blaming Google or LG Is Pointless
Furthermore, on the flip side, various shops do carry the Nexus 4 at a time when Google does not. That creates an unfair supply-and-demand scenario, where retailers find themselves holding the higher ground and therefore can ask for unreasonable amounts for what is otherwise known as a cheap smartphone. It may be argued that that is how a competitive market operates, but do enthusiasts see it that way? I doubt it, especially when reading forum posts blaming both Google and LG for mishandling the situation.
Placing blame is really childish behavior, which judging by various reports that is what Google and LG actually do. The former says there is not enough supply, while the latter says there is not enough demand. However, what we do know is that Samsung and LG are both top manufacturers that move a high amount of devices each year. The Samsung-made Nexus 10 also had its fair share of "out of stock" periods, and I find it difficult to believe that the former South Korean manufacturer cannot keep up with the demand. It sells the Galaxy S III which sold in 40 million units but cannot deliver on a more low-key device? It begs the question whether the same can be implied about LG.
Frankly, I don't care which one is to blame when all I want is a single 16GB Nexus 4 smartphone. Doesn't matter if it's Google or LG -- all I really demand is to be able to purchase a product. That's all. But, that said, isn't it ridiculous to ask that of two multibillion corporations?