Android Central

I like my Nexus 7. It’s speedy, well-designed and runs a pure, unmolested version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. But since I’ve returned with it to the UK, Google’s flagship tablet has seemed just a little less magical than it was in sunny San Francisco.

To understand why, you have look at the main purpose of the tablet. As we repeated throughout our coverage of the new Nexus devices at Google I/O, they represent a window into the content-rich world of Google Play. But a content consumption device is only as strong as the stuff it allows you to consume, and outside of the U.S., the Nexus 7 is severely impaired in this area.

Of the six main parts of Google Play -- music, books, apps, movies, TV and magazines -- three are unavailable outside of the U.S. So if you’re ordering a Nexus 7 in Europe or anywhere else that’s not America, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your streaming TV, magazine and music fix. (Sure, you can monkey around with proxies to get your non-U.S Google account enabled for Music streaming if you want, but that’s beyond most folks.)

What’s more, the lack of certain cloud-based solutions from Google is compounded by the fact that the cheapest (and likely most popular) version of the Nexus 7 ships with 8GB of storage, of which just under 6GB is available for your own stuff. That’s not much of anything. The 16GB version will offer 13 or so, but that’s not exactly spacious either.

The counter-argument is that the Nexus 7 is ludicrously cheap, even in the UK. Over here, tech buyers are accustomed to being swindled by the direct swapping of dollar signs for pound signs. That’s not the case with the Nexus 7, which will sell for £159, and the importance of that shouldn’t be understated. Just months ago that kind of tablet budget would’ve landed you squarely in craplet territory, so to have a quad-core flagship at this price point is impressive indeed. And as The Verge points out, the competition in the 7-inch tablet space isn’t quite so fierce outside the U.S, where there’s no incumbent Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet.

Nevertheless, the Nexus 7 is a Google Play device, and with half of these services missing, international buyers will find themselves with a significantly reduced content library, and consequently a device which represents poorer value for money. Google is also impacted financially, as Nexus 7 owners outside the U.S. will have to pay someone else for their music, magazines and TV content. It’s all part of a wider problem with many of the cooler Google services (Google Voice, anyone?), which are similarly restricted.

Of course, if the folks at Mountain View were able to make the full Google Play experience available to everyone, everywhere, we’re sure they would. Licensing issues are more than likely the reason I’m not able to buy music or TV shows from Google on this side of the Atlantic. These things can be tricky, as evidenced by the fact that Warner artists still aren’t on Play Music in the U.S. But now that Google’s selling its aggressively-priced (and presumably aggressively-marketed) tablet directly to consumers in Europe and elsewhere, we hope it’ll redouble its efforts to bring them Google Play in its entirety.

The launch of the Play devices store in the UK is an important first step, and one we’re sure will lead to the company selling future Nexus smartphones directly to consumers, in time. But as long as significant chunks of Google Play are U.S.-only, these devices will be just as internationally challenged as the Nexus 7.


Reader comments

Nexus 7: The internationally challenged tablet


Same thing has been happening to A LOT of products, not just Google's... Google Navigation is still not available in my country even though you can get step-by-step directions within the same app (just not voice ones). TV, Movies and Music, thanks to copyrights and royalties cannot be offered globally, I guess the same goes for books and magazines... And it's not just Google, the same goes for others, like Apple's Siri being useless in most of the world and only if you speak English. We're global consumers for global products maimed with local apps.

"three are unavailable outside of the U.S." - five is unavailable in many parts of Europe (Sweden in my case), we have apps, that's it.

Well, better a few missing features than not being able to get it outside of the US, like the Kindle Fire...

Nice article Alex and good to read about your experience with the Nexus 7 since you returned home. I contacted Google regarding this issue last week and although they did reply,I still have no clarity on the subject. I have pre-ordered the 16GB version and decided to keep the faith with the Android Ecosystem in the hope that we get these services in the next few months on this side of the pond.

Same here, I have longed for the full market experience from both Amazon & Google, I too hope they double their efforts in this field.

But I shall continue to have faith and I will be looking forward to the delivery of my Tablet mid-July

Except it's not just Android... iOS, Windows Mobile/Phone/Metro or whatever they're calling it these days, the upcoming Firefox OS... Any device that sells/uses content that has a copyright or pays royalties or must be licensed will ALWAYS be internationally challenged. It's not the OS's fault the content it's not available, it is however their fault for not finding suitable options when they want to make the device internationally available...

My thoughts exactly; lack of content is not a limitation on behalf of the OS to render them or manage them. Get a VPN and they'll download and play just fine. It's a matter of content licensing, which affects all major content aggregators out there.

Hopefully by the time it ships, Google will make those missing features available. To be honest I only use books and apps.

This article needs to be promptly deleted lol. "The internationally challenged tablet"?? These aren't Nexus7 restrictions...This is every android device in existence! Are all other android tablets able to access TV, magazines and music over there?

I'm actually a little shocked. Usually Android Central is my favorite website with great content. This story just seems to be a tale about a dude who got an N7, and forgot what content is available from Google play back in his own country. That's like me getting a snow blower in Canada, and then taking it home to Egypt and complaining about it.

You're missing the point, I think. If the Nexus 7 isn't meant to be Just Another Android Tablet, and is really supposed to act as a portal for Google Play content (which I believe it is), then that content not being available is a pretty big deal.

Is there still time to fix this? Sure. And we hope Google gets it done. But such change comes at a glacial pace.

I was completely flabbergasted at the absolutely lack of even any amount of progress towards more international availability on Google Play.

It really annoys me to no end that Apple has a pretty decent music and movie library across europe, you would really have thought that Apple's work would've paved the road for other services like Google.

But i guess it's all about content providers extorting these services so they can make ludicrous additions to protect their IP (Censor the internet), the whole Google Music deauthorization limit really showed the stupidity of these content providers.

Ah well, hope it comes soon.

In today's global climate I would say a glacial pace is a bit quick for Google to get Google Play up to scratch XP

I don't think it is going to get fixed anytime soon. I think itunes has the same problem. If I remember correctly they have different versions of itunes that sell different content in different countries and you can't easily gain access to these other versions. Setting up different stores in different countries might be a solution for google, but its cumbersome for those of us that travel. This is what sucks about the media industry. They're always finding ways to stick it to consumers. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

I just dislike how this article puts a negative spin on the nexus 7. Seems like a great product...and this kind of negativity just seems cynical.

I'd love to see Music and TV shows (not so much magazines) here in Canada too....but licencing stuff internationally is brutal!!! I can't even legally order PEZ from the official American pez website from here in Canada lol. Believe me there....I emailed them and it was a hard NO.

Here's an epic tip I discovered for everyone though... Anyone use the 7digital app store for all their music downloads?? If you do, you can just go into the settings and change your country to anywhere in the world...then get the entire music catalog from there. I buy american CDs all the time and it just charges you in USD. Also, by checking the american store, you get access to sales they don't get in Canada too. That may at least solve some peoples woes about music if you have any. God knows I'll never give apple a dime again :)

That defeats the purpose, sure you can go elsewhere to buy music even in Canada but that's not the point. Those who want Google Music can't use Google Music.

Well, we aren't supposed to use Google music, but as stated in the article it is possible to bypass, but above the average user.

Unlike other tablets, this one comes with 8 GB and no SD card. So yes, the negativity is justified in this case: this tablet is purely a portal to the cloud. If the cloud is not available in a given country, it is crippled.

This is a valid criticism. However, one benefit of the low price is that Google will start seeing some greater adoption outside of the US. With a lot of devices out there, the media providers outside the US may become encouraged to support the ecosystem better.

I've asked you guys via twitter several times now to enquire with Google about UK music store, I asked if you could bring it up at GoogleIO. I love your site and the information it provides but it would be nice to get a response once in a while.

I'd hate to think of you stuck with that tablet. I'll be happy to take it off your hands for the cost of shipping. ;-)

As a switcher from iOS to Android the first thing i noticed is that we don't get to choose which country to register in, it does it automatically. I live in the middle east and being able to choose the US store on my iOS device made me purchase apps music movies shows as if i were in the US. So if Android allows us this feature we would be all happy in all parts of the globe. Other than that Android bests iOS in all other aspects.

I'm in the UK too, but ordered one assuming that I'd only have apps but a powerful cheap tablet. I'm just interested to see what Google come up with. I render my own movies from DVD when I can, use kobo/google for books and amazon for mp3. Google will hate me as they won't see much money from my account!

Well now you can guess what it feels like to buy device in Iran... We cannot even open the google play app at all !
Yet we pay double money for the same device :-|

Yet another reason why SD cards should ALWAYS be on these devices. If you had the additional space of an SD card, you could download the content and not have to rely upon getting it from the play store.

Meh, you get used to it when you live outside the US.

We get everything after you and for a much higher price. Cars/Movies/Games/TV shows come out weeks later sometimes 6 months later or not at all.

Half the features on devices dont work or dont have access to the complete market. Google play doesnt let me access quite a few apps and of course has horrible price conversions + it being in another currency I have to pay a couple of $ for conversions.

Big selling points of devices are US only. Siri on iOS is a good example.

What makes me sick is you see Americans come online complaining about content and costs of things. When I was last in America on holiday I spent about $800 in Gamestop (I know they arnt the cheapest but its all I could find) the guy behind the counter couldnt believe it everything was a third of the price for me.

As for the article google can go get stuffed if they honestly think im going to pay them $6 to rent a movie and watch it on my tablet or buy a book thats nearly double the price that a local bookstore sells it for.

I dont think anyone wants their other crappy services. The US can keep them!

I've seen Battleship and Spiderman here in Korea at the local theater before they were even released in the US. I guess there is an exception to every rule...

Yeah of course other countries get the odd thing or two before them. But surely you must feel that most US companies dont realise that there are customers from other parts of the world and dont even bother to be competitive in the market.

That's why it isn't available for purchase outside of the US. They should have confiscated it from you at the airport!

Its available to pre-order on google play in several countries outside the US and I know a few stores local to me are getting them in.

Hmm, when i tried to order it gave me a message saying that it was only available in the US. I guess they lied or you are misinformed. Well, it's definitely not available for Korea right now.

This is part of the reason I can never buy into an ecosystem completely. Being Canadian, I can never fully make use of the full offerings due to licensing agreements, big media screwing me.. etc etc. I won't even get into the whole piracy aspect of it all.

The beauty of Nexus 7 is that it is a real, fully functioning tablet as opposed to a content delivery device like the Kindle Fire. You get speed, great display and build and Android Jelly Bean. Just remove the widgets for any content you don't want or can't get and substitute the content appropriate for your country. Far different than the Fire, which is so heavily skinned that it really isn't anything other than an Amazon content device.

We didn't have books or movies in Canada initially either, and they came after a few months. I'd bet we'll see something similar with TV shows and magazines, as well as movie purchases.

Music is a different animal though. Licensing music is a nightmare. Personally, I used proxies to sign up for Google Music, but it would be really nice if I could buy from them too. I have yet to buy music from any digital distributor (I buy all my music from Amazon on CDs still) but if Google could get this service up and running I'd be all over it.

Google Voice is another, entirely different issue, as it would face all kinds of CRTC red tape.

Google has shown in the past that they want to get all this stuff working for us Canadians. I can't think of any services that they did not offer us that were not restricted by red tape. Gmail, Google+, Android, and now the Nexus 7 were all launched here quickly if not immediately. It took a while, but we have gotten paid apps, movie rentals, book purchases, and Nexus One direct sales up here too, and Google TV is coming, so they're not ignoring us. I'm sure we will get TV shows, magazines, Galaxy Nexus direct sales, and even music as soon as they possibly can. Hell, maybe even Chromebooks too.

Being patient sucks though

The smart move from Google would be to fix this. Amazon currently rules in the states but they are as much of a no show in Europe as Googles services is. Get Play Store working in Europe, steal that market away from Amazon and then Google has quite the solid ground to stand on when they start to eat away at the U.S market.

That we can't even order the Nexus phone or other hardware is ridiculous, since there aren't any copyright or licensing issues. Sure, some shipping and tax needs to be added to the prize-tag but I would be cool with that. Luckily we can get the phone in most stores anyways, but ordering direct from Google wouldn't hurt.

this is what i have been complaining about for more than two years,voice also is crippled outside usa as well.i have warned google before to hurry up and cease being a yank centric company and actualy become the wwe company they claim to be

I like, many outside of the US, have always felt like the poorer relatives where content is concerned. Difficult as it maybe, how about negotiating rights in each country for their own content, so in the UK for example, British TV and or magazines that are available here.

Companies like Netflix and LoveFilms are offering "a" service, as a start Google, if they are not already in negotiations, could start something similar and concentrate these types of effort globally in to other markets too.

OK I realise this is a simplified view and One Google Play market to join them, one Google Play Market to rule them all would be the ideal situation.

Agree with the article but i assume that even if the content is not available outside the USA its not a google play only device and for music i can use Spotify and tv Netflix and iPlayer type apps so its not really a dealbreaker for me. Magazines i can live without.

Shame the storage isnt expandable but the device itself is a bargain as long as it can be used as a normal tablet.

This is a problem for more and more products that are being introduced on the american market. The Xbox is lacking features here also, it's nice to see al the cable deals and sport shizzle getting anounced on the E3. But in the end of the day the european consumers wil never get it. HBO is just beiing rolled out here in the netherlands and Netflix is completely absent and unthinkable here.

There are parts in europe where you even can't pay for google play programs and only the free(non pay ingame) apps are avalable. It's terrible that the international buyers of google can't even get the content. Kroes a european representative made the statement that "the imposibility to buy content legaly is the biggest cause of piracy in the EU." That was about Media, programs and App's are widely avalable in pirated form. i personaly think it's stupid to pirate a game that's worth €1,50 but if it's the only way you can get the content i can feel some symapthy for the pirate.

But trying to get licencesses for media is a real snakepit here. And don't start about the diferent language options (fench, german, english, finnish, greek, italian, spanish, etc. etc.) big parts of europe don't even talk english (the nerds are but the man on the street does not in that country's)


a good article with a strong justification for google to add more content so that THEIR international customers get more and for content providers to start accepting that if they do not provide content fairly across the world than people will just go elsewhere so they make less money.....both sides need to sort it.

I accept that US customers get more options...unfortunately most media especially films and TV is US based and the best stuff at the moment is coming from the US e.g. Suits....studios/ media companies need to provide content for glonal audiences now that we have learnt to get content from across the world using third party websites they need to catch up and provide the content at a fair price so that user will pay and will be happy

You know, this is exactly my problem with the Nexus. And with Play Store and Amazon in general. I live in the EU (Hungary), and there are so many services I can't use. Which is even more weird, there are EU countries which have access to services (Spotify), but we don't. I'd so buy magazines, musics and rent videos legally, but I just can't. Or at least not in a convenient way. Cause I'd like to get it all from one place, like the US Play Store, or Amazon. I know there are legal concerns, but I still don't get why they exclude people willing to pay for their products.

This was a problem I thought us international users would have.
The sad thing is, don't expect a "fix" or change anytime soon.

I can't be bothered to dredge through all the comments but won't you just be able to plug a USB drive or external hard drive into the Nexus 7 and play videos or whatever from that, like what you can do with other tablets and the Samsung S3.

Please! Here's a bigger mess:
Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the United States, doesn't get access to Google Books, Google Movies and Google Music. We can only buy applications and only for Android PHONES, not for tablets. If you want to buy an app that is compatible with both phones and tablets, you have to buy it from your phone or from the web store and download it to your phone -- only then you'll be allowed to install it on your tablet. If you want to buy an application that is only made for tablets, you are screwed! "Free" apps are OK for all devices.

You'd think a company like Google would understand the global nature of the Internet and make the necessary arrangements to deliver contents outside the USA, but they are definitely working at a snail pace here. I can buy more contents from iTunes than I can from Google's Play Store.

So the future for Android devices looks like this:
You'll have amazing available content in Google Play in the US, except you won't be able to buy any android device thanks to Apple and a broken patent system. In the rest of the world you'll be able to buy an amazing device with nothing to play on it thanks to content licensing issues.

So the future for Android devices looks like this:
You'll have amazing available content in Google Play in the US, except you won't be able to buy any android device thanks to Apple and a broken patent system. In the rest of the world you'll be able to buy an amazing device with nothing to play on it thanks to content licensing issues.

So the future for Android devices looks like this:
You'll have amazing available content in Google Play in the US, except you won't be able to buy any android device thanks to Apple and a broken patent system. In the rest of the world you'll be able to buy an amazing device with nothing to play on it thanks to content licensing issues.

In Argentina we missed them all, but still want a Nexus 7!! give me that fucking tablet! (i own a Transformer Prime, but love this one too!) we dont care on the other google services, we love them all, but we can live with out them.

Google as a whole does not comment on the expansion of the Play store features until they are out. I would not be surprised at all if the countries outside the US who will get the Nexus 7 at launch will see an expanded Google Play store featuring Magazines and ability to PURCHASE Movies and TV shows when the tablet actually launches, not now when it's available for pre-order but when it is actually shipping to people and arriving in their hands. Again, Google Does not comment on the expansion of the Play Store until it happens.