Unlike with the Echo or Nexus Q, the release of the Google Home product was not limited or controlled. Google partnered with Best Buy and Walmart to allow for ordering the Google Home. They also are selling directly from their website.
What’s a bit puzzling is no staggered release — at least to the public. It’s entirely possible that Google would have the means to mass distribute a beta product but they don’t do so where those early beta testers could eventually leave feedback on the product. These early testers would likely be very loyal and as a result, leave better reviews. Better reviews would lead to a norming bias and more good reviews and sales.
It’s hard to imagine all of the pressures that would drive making such a decision at Google — getting the product to market faster, competing with Amazon, being in place to counter Black Friday/Cyber Monday blitzes, and tying together with the simultaneous launch of Pixel and Wifi. However, consumer electronics reviews are a harsh crew. They will tear a product to pieces if it has even the slightest blemish.
When we released the Ubi, it represented to us a lifetime of people hours, on top of many technologies that millions of engineers had been working on for the past century. However, if the Ubi got a question wrong, it was skewered. Fair enough. We’ll see if Google Home gets fair treatment in the Wild West of online reviews.