Google plans Silver bullet to drive Android forward post-Nexus

Google plans Silver bullet to drive Android forward post-NexusGiven the constantly changing nature of the mobile industry, it's impressive that Google's Nexus program of own-branded hardware made by its Android OEM chums has lasted as long as it has.

But the end of the Nexus era could well be nigh, with details emerging of the Android Silver project, which will see Google subsidising a series of high-end Android devices in exchange for stricter control of what software is loaded on board.

According to The Information (good name, that), Google is planning to scrap its Nexus division, which dates back to the Google Nexus One's arrival in early 2010, and will no longer release smartphones under its own name.

Instead, it will work with selected Android manufacturers to produce a series of high-end handsets, subsidising the development and marketing costs, including in network providers' retail outlets, in exchange for tighter control on exactly what software is loaded on the device.

The strategy shift would make sense in a number of ways, and in many ways it's an extension of the Google Play Edition approach we've seen from several Android stalwarts.

While both the Play Edition devices as well as the Nexus lineup itself have been warmly received, the current system is clearly in need of a rethink. While Nexus devices have done well in terms of unit sales, there isn't a great deal of benefit for manufacturers given that it's Google's name on the box and not their own.

Then there's the Play Edition project, which offers pure Google versions of existing Android handsets but only directly from Google, since otherwise they'd be competing directly with their non-Play Edition brethren on the high street.

On top of that, the stripping down to the bare Android UI often left a device that was faster and simpler to use than the full version, which reflected badly on Android phone makers and their add-on skins.

Plus there's blowback on Google itself, as comparing the Google and non-Google versions of the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One risks users coming to the conclusion that while Android can be streamlined, it generally isn't.

The Android Silver project will reportedly allow Google to cut down on third-party bloatware, deliver a consistent and reliable programme of software updates and ensure a standard level of consistency across Silver devices across the board.

Hardware partners, meanwhile, will be able to put their own name, and not Google's, on the devices and will see them made available through all the usual distribution channels and not just online from Google itself.

Google is rumoured to have put aside as much as $1bn to drive the initiative forward, and the first Android Silver devices are expected to land next year, with LG and Motorola identified as the early frontrunners to get involved.

Via Android Police

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