In the weeks leading up to Google’s big unveiling of the Pixel and Pixel XL, lots of questions started to surface about the future of the Nexus brand. These were partially fueled by rumors of a new Huawei built, Nexus branded tablet and others who thought Google may use the Pixel brand only for their premium devices. However, Hiroshi Lockheimer who heads up the Android team at Google says in an interview with Bloomberg that that are no plans for any new or additional Nexus devices, signaling the brand has been effectively killed off.
In trying to explain where Google is headed with the Pixel and Nexus brands as well as the overall philosophy that Google is working with, Lockheimer indicated there has been a major change in direction. The focus of the Nexus line in the past has been on Android and what that platform could provide. However, Google is shifting to focus more on what Google can do for users, so the hardware and operating system become a tad less important. Thus, the Pixel devices and presumably all other Google hardware moving forward will focus more on Google technologies that are in addition to Android.
Lockheimer also noted that there has been a change in the market, notably since the release of the Nexus 5. That device was a success according to Lockheimer because it hit a key intersection between value and capability. Fast forward to 2016 and there are plenty of manufacturers who can achieve quality hardware at the mid-range price point. Although Lockheimer does not say it, the manufacturers also appear to have figured out that buyers do not want them to stray too far from “pure” Android, so the platform is becoming more consistent as well. These changes eliminate some of what differentiated Nexus devices from the rest of the market. Ultimately, Google decided that “there is no plan right now to do more Nexus devices” according to Lockheimer.
Another key point that Lockheimer brought out in the course of the interview is the impact that the addition of Rick Osterloh has had on Google’s hardware team. With his expertise, Google has been able to separate out hardware to more of a distinct division that is not so intertwined with the Android team. This means the hardware side of the business can work on producing devices that can be differentiated from other market choices because they are no longer limited to the Android platform and nothing else. From a product standpoint, this is why we are seeing things like the Google Assistant technology coming to the Pixel devices but not necessarily to older Nexus devices.