A few months ago, before Google released its most recent Nexus phone, the LG Nexus 4, there were several substantial rumors floating around that Google was planning on opening its Nexus line to multiple manufacturing partners. It all started with a report from the very credible Wall Street Journal and the rumors went something like this: Google will offer its “Nexus” name and early access to the latest stock Android builds to any OEM who is willing to play by Google’s rules and build their phones with a minimum set of specs set by Google’s team. There was said to be five new Nexus phones from five different manufacturers (LG, HTC, Sony, Samsung, and Motorola) all released on November 5th (Android’s 5th birthday) and they’d each be sold in Google’s new Play Store. Sounds pretty plausible, right? Android had finally grown up as an operating system, and now it was time to get the pure Google experience on as many powerful flagship phones as possible, while bypassing the manufacturers ugly and unconventional skins. To be honest, when I first read this rumor I was beyond excited. I absolutely love stock Android (post Ice Cream Sandwich) and was salivating about the fact that I’d get to choose from several top of the line hardware variations for my next Nexus.
Well, the rumors didn’t pan out (not yet, at least). November came and Google released not five, but one solitary Nexus phone: the LG Nexus 4. The rumors of an HTC built Nexus 5 just never materialized, and today it seems that the dream of having multiple Nexus phones to choose from is long gone. It seems that Google has chosen its strategy: pick one manufacturing partner with the most cutting edge technology and lowest price points, then work closely with them to release the one successor Nexus phone per year. Some of you are still waiting, hoping, maybe even longing for Google to change its strategy and give us some choice by opening its Nexus program to multiple manufacturers, but I am no longer one of those people.
I believe Google would fail to deliver properly coded, smooth functioning, high quality software updates in a timely manner if it had to manage five separate Nexus phones. Google is having a hard enough time managing the devices it’s already got (let alone getting them launched right). This can be seen with the buggy Nexus 7 4.2 update that caused users’ devices to lag, stutter and chop themselves to oblivion. It can be seen by the fact that the entrepreneurial developers over on XDA can optimize Google’s code and get us better battery life than Google’s high paid Android engineers can (my Nexus 7 gets twice the battery life running when a CM 10.1 nightly ROM compared to the stock Android software). If Google is having trouble getting decent code out to these three different sized devices (the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10), then how could we expect to get finished, polished, timely updates to 5, 10 or even 20 Nexus phones made by different manufacturers with different chip sets? No, I think Google has given up on that idea, and I for one am glad. The evidence that Google is overwhelmed with different devices to care for can be seen by the fact that they’ve recently cut off support for the Nexus S and Motorola Xoom. It seems that Google is struggling to keep up and do a good job. In this case, less is more.
I may be the minority among Android fanatics, but I’d rather have one Nexus device that works perfectly and gets quick updates, than have many phones to choose from that are all buggy, half-baked and slow to get updates. I am hoping that Google keeps its Nexus line “closed”.
What do you guys think? Would you rather have Google offer several Nexus phones at once? Or do you think it would mess things up and slow things down? Let us know in the comments!