Aug 20, 2010

Lessons for the Church from the Nexus One Failure

Google's Nexus One was supposed to change the way people bought phones. Instead of being enslaved to the four major carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), Google was to free people to purchase phones as they wanted.

That was the theory anyways.

But the reality was that because Google decided only to sell their phones through their website instead of opening up their product to as many people as possible through as many means possible, Google's Nexus One is dead.

While Apple, HTC, Samsung and others have sold millions of units of their comparable smart-phones, Google has barely sold 100,000 units. This is what you see when you go to Google's Nexus One site:
The Nexus One is no longer available for purchase. And when you click onto the help center, you find out that there are only a limited number of units available to registered developers.

Who cares? Why am I even writing about all this?

There are some really important lessons that leaders of churches and organizations can learn from Google's failure with Nexus One.

First, a superior product without a superior distribution scheme will lead to failure. Very few people would argue that Nexus One was not one of the best smartphones on the market. But because Google insisted on limiting its sales to only its website, it was a colossal failure.

Second, by only selling their product on line, this decision eliminated the touch factor. People couldn't touch it and play with it like they can with any of the other phones marketed through retailers. This was a huge mistake on Google's part.

Third, Google tied their product to the least attractive carrier. Although people could purchase the Nexus one through Google, if they wanted the discounted price, and if they wanted the phone to work right out of the box without the extra step of unlocking the phone and voiding the warranty, you had to sign a two year contract with T-Mobile.

So what can leaders learn from this?

1. Without a doubt, Jesus is the greatest answer to the all the problems that ails our society. No question. But if the church and her leaders do not plan and have a strategy for telling the world about Jesus, how will anyone know? The problem wasn't the Nexus One: it was their distribution strategy. The church has to be intentional about how best she can maximize the reach of the good news of Jesus Christ.

2. Don't forget the touch factor. The product becomes real as people come in contact with it. They need to touch it, play with it, hold it in their hands. The same is true for Jesus Christ. People come into contact with Jesus Christ through her followers. Here's what this means: if all the church's activities and programs require non-Christians to come to church, that church will fail. Jesus must be taken to where the people are. There needs to be intentional programs and activities that regularly takes people with Jesus out into the community so that people can come in contact with Jesus through Christ-followers.

3. The message of Jesus can be shared in a way that is less-attractive, and the person of Jesus Christ can be shared in a way that is more attractive. And it is the leaders' task to discern the difference.

Although I never owned the Nexus One, it's sad to see it fail. There was so much potential.

Leaders, may those words never be said of the churches and organizations we lead.

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