x PhoneArena is looking for new authors! To view all available positions, click here.
  • Home
  • News
  • The potential ripple effect of Google's new Nexus strategy

The potential ripple effect of Google's new Nexus strategy

Posted: , by Michael H.

Tags:

The potential ripple effect of Google's new Nexus strategy
A couple days ago, we talked about how Google's rumored new Nexus strategy of releasing multiple devices through multiple manufacturing partners could help to stop the vocal minority within the Android user base from complaining about "fragmentation". Today, we want to talk about the potential ripple effect, and how more Nexus devices will affect the ecosystem as a whole.

The Nexus brand itself has undergone some changes in recent years. Originally, the Nexus brand was something of a beacon for early adopters, and those who loved to really tinker with what a device could do. It was a device for developers, and it was a device to push forward the hardware in the Android ecosystem. Nexus meant that you would get a pure Android experience with no alterations. But, over the years, the brand has changed a bit and evolved with the times. 

The evolution of Nexus

Google decided that the number one goal of the Nexus brand was to be a pure Google experience, and realized that the way to offer that on every carrier was to make one concession: tethering couldn't be a standard feature, and so the hotspot and tethering options were hindered in some variants of the Galaxy Nexus. Also, the idea that the Nexus has to be a device that pushes forward Android hardware has lost traction. Google still uses the devices to try to push forward certain hardware features, like NFC; but overall, Nexus devices are not the very best of the best as far as hardware specs. Instead, Nexus devices get their value from being on the cutting edge of software

The idea of a pure Google experience device is something that extends beyond a device having stock Android installed. Pure Android isn't just a lack of a custom UI, or a lack of too much preloaded software. Possibly most importantly of all the characteristics of a pure Google experience is that platform updates come directly from Google. This means Nexus devices get updates far far faster than any other devices in the ecosystem... well, all Nexus devices not running on Verizon, of course. 

One of the original hopes of the Nexus brand was to show customers how fast updates could be, and maybe shame manufacturers into pushing out updates faster. The problem with that idea was that the Nexus brand, as we mentioned, was something of an ubergeek symbol, and didn't hold much weight with the majority of customers, so the anger that increased after seeing the disparity in update speed came mostly from the tech elite. We talked last time about how the added choice of Nexus devices could help to quell the anger of that population, but additionally, we have to remember that the larger the Nexus brand grows, the more the average user will see that same update disparity. 

Visibility leads to change

Having one Nexus device has certain advantages, like being the default "flagship" device, and getting focused attention. It helps with word of mouth advertising, and in building an iconic brand. These advantages are ones that Apple has been benefitting from with the iPhone, because Apple loves creating iconic products. However, the new strategy of having a line of Nexus devices helps Google achieve the original goals of the brand. Nexus was never intended to be an icon, it was intended to be a role model. Manufacturers need not try to emulate the Nexus devices, but can learn from them, and the same goes for users. 

We tend to believe that almost everything in the world comes down to knowledge and perspective, which ultimately leads to understanding. A lack of one of those former components leads to an inability to truly understand an issue, product, etc. Fanboys lack perspective, and therefore can never truly understand the opinions of others. Similarly, without the knowledge of how slowly updates are coming to their devices, and how far behind an Android 2.3 device truly is, users can't understand why this happens and how best to avoid the problem.

Of course, users can't learn about or from a device if they don't know about it, and visibility has always been a problem for Nexus devices. Sure, we all know about them, because we actively seek out information on the mobile ecosystem. There are many casual users who still think that "Droid" is a term that can be used to refer to any device in the Android ecosystem, and not just a specific line of Verizon devices. Those users tend to not know or understand the importance of the Nexus devices. But that could easily change if there are multiple Nexus devices, and Google pushes the visibility of them, maybe with dedicated Nexus sections in retail stores, but definitely with the dedicated section in the Play Store. 

Manufacturers benefit too

The part that no one has really touched upon yet is that manufacturers may not even need the increased awareness and push by users in order to be better about offering updates for devices. Sure, when more casual users understand the problem better, there will be more complaints, which will push manufacturers. But, we tend to ignore one of the major benefits for manufacturers of being in the Nexus program: early access to software

Early access to Android updates will obviously help a manufacturer build a Nexus device, but it also means that company has a head start on adding its own software layer for its own devices. Ever since the days of the Nexus One, HTC has been one of the best companies around at pushing updates to its devices, and we think its fairly likely that was because the company has a history of working so closely with Google. 

Samsung may not always be the best about pushing updates, but since it began working with Google for the Nexus S and then the Galaxy Nexus, Samsung has been one of the better manufacturers about launching new devices with the newest version of Android. That may not apply to Jelly Bean updates so far, but Samsung is unlikely to have gotten any early builds of Jelly Bean, because it wasn't building the launch device. 

Asus had the honor of being the Nexus partner for the launch of Jelly Bean, and wouldn't you know it, the company was also pretty quick on pushing Jelly Bean updates to its other tablets. Granted, Asus has always been one of the fastest, because of its very minimal customization, and the fact that tablets don't need to worry about carrier testing. 

Additionally, we have to remember that Google handles the promotions for all of the Nexus devices, and has been taking over support as well. This means that a manufacturing partner needs to just build the device and collect its cut of the sales, while Google handles everything else. That's not a bad deal for hardware partners. 

Conclusion

Now, just imagine what the Android landscape could look like if it is true that Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony are all getting early builds of Android software, and all have more time to work on their own customizations. At the very least, we should see more and more non-Nexus devices launching with the newest version of Android faster than before. If that work can be done before the launch of a device, that should leave manufacturers more time to dedicate towards building the updates for older devices. And, that's where the users step in. More Nexus devices should also mean more aware customers, and more pressure on manufacturers to push out updates to more devices on a faster timeline. 

We should all realize by now that Google isn't going to mandate updates. Google isn't an authoritarian company that forces companies to play by the rules they set, and we wouldn't want that from Google anyway. If Google suddenly clamped down on Android, it would fundamentally change the platform from what it is into something we may not want. Google has certain ideas of what it wants Android to be, and uses the carrot-and-stick to try to lead manufacturers there. The strategy is changing, and that could mean better results for users. 

65 Comments
  • Options
    Close




posted on 10 Oct 2012, 15:56 27

1. Captain_Doug (Posts: 753; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Agreed.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:00 19

2. eisenbricher (Posts: 971; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)


Enjoyed reading the article. No objections.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 17:02 10

24. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Sustained....

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 09:26

58. kartik4u98 (Posts: 511; Member since: 19 May 2012)


Right! Michael is the best writer in Phonearena.

posted on 12 Oct 2012, 10:27 1

65. speckledapple (Posts: 879; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


agreed on the article. Very well written.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:06 13

3. tedkord (Posts: 4736; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


One minor point. In general, it's not a vocal minority of Android users yelling about fragmentation. It's a vocal minority of iOS and WP users much more than Android users.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:13 4

6. Captain_Doug (Posts: 753; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Definitely. Most android users probably don't even notice. Probably because it's so easy to see different phones as having different capabilities.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:19 15

9. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2670; Member since: 26 May 2011)


That was covered in the last article. Android haters will never stop their noise, but everyone else can learn about the problem.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:40 1

17. jroc74 (Posts: 4732; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Michael H, I thought you was an Apple fanboy....lol. Like I said in that other article.....some ppl don't read all your articles. Another nice on by the way.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 20:06 3

39. -box- (Posts: 3789; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


Michael is one of the most unbiased tech writers I have yet encountered.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 20:25 2

40. downphoenix (Posts: 2317; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


He may be an apple fan, but not an apple fanboy. Different things. A fan just means preferring or favoring whatever you're a fan of. A fanboy is someone who is immature and unreasonable with their fandom.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:04 8

41. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2670; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Certainly not an Apple fan, but I do understand why people like Apple products (mostly because I'm the only tech nerd in my family, which means my mom, both sisters, and my wife all have iPads...)

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:29 2

44. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Michael what are you doing writing for pa?

go write for an established tech site like slashgear or endgadget. Youre too good for pa.

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 04:11 2

56. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)


No way. dont listen to him micheal. stay here and make phonearena develop or write for multiple sites if you can. btw is it just me or is pa comment section the best. i like the community.(even the trolls and haters) they add colour to the site( mostly red .lol)

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 17:56 1

31. jroc74 (Posts: 4732; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Exactly.

Those same ppl screaming fragmentation must never upgrade their PC's or buy a new PC.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 18:02 2

33. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5751; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


'Cause they are still in shock from their experience with Vista....

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:06 5

4. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2447; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


"If Google suddenly clamped down on Android, it would fundamentally change the platform from what it is into something we may not want"

Exactly Michael, but the question is, Can Google give us an ecosystem that is as open as its always been yet controlled enough to where we have stability and fluidity like we find on IOS? Can the two come together in what we know as..... "Nexus"?

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:46 3

20. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Smartphones ought to be made just like those purposed Nexus 5.0
phones will be unlocked. Google should also set up small kiosks
or booths in shooping malls , so people can put their hands on the
phones and try them out, or partner with say, Best-Buy
, who already offers some good deals.Nearly all carriers
are getting the iPhone now, and you don't mess with it's
purity. Who do you insist on messing with, Googles phone
? All Googles phones ought to be pure IMO, not just Nexu phones. With this new stategy Googles implementing, i hope Google cleans the carriers!

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 17:15 3

25. The_Innovation (Posts: 556; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)


You know, you're not living up to your name with such serious comments.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 17:22 2

26. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


the "TROLL" Android .......! TOAO

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:06

5. jan25 (Posts: 389; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)


from the current leaks so far, the possibility of having multiple Nexus devices is diminishing.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:14 3

7. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 618; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


Google shouldn't clamp down, but they should give some strict guidelines for support of the upcoming OS, so a manufacturer knows what is the minimum requirements to support upgradeability and also when they include their own UI they take full responsibility for updates using their UI, but Google releases should be able to run the instant Google releases them to OEM's. Which is why I love the Nexus initiative, but Google's dev guys should be fine tuning their OS to the point that it will run on the minimum of RAM and Processor clock cycles required to support entry level devices. It's obvious if the OS can run on low end devices that means the high end devices will run problem free and will have a bit longer life in the hands of a user who loves his phone and always wants to remain in the update loop. Google is definitely a very smart company, their programming prowess is impeccable and each and every version of Android that comes forth shows that these guys are always thinking pretty far forward, Google Now is incredible but the funny thing is even without Google Now the voice search on 2.3 Devices is still extremely fast and concise. S voice needs to die, lol. Sorry!

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:16 2

8. eman99 (Posts: 222; Member since: 03 Aug 2010)


if they would let out one a year and expandable memory slots then nexus would dominate

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:19 4

10. Ravail (Posts: 181; Member since: 14 Oct 2011)


I have a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and with ole Sammy being really slow on updates.. it forced me to turn to CM9 and other roms throughout the XDA community.. and i'm glad i did.. As of this morning i got a copy of Android 4.1.2 Nightly :) glad i did to.. way better than stock firmware..

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:25 3

12. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Wow, already? That was fast! What developer? CM?

posted on 12 Oct 2012, 04:11

64. Ravail (Posts: 181; Member since: 14 Oct 2011)


yeah, CM10

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:22 3

11. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Michael, you keep mentioning an HTC Nexus device. I haven't heard of one in the works. Do you have a source?

Although I'm not sure users will see faster updates to non-Nexus devices, I like your positive outlook. If only the carriers would get out of the way... they are a big part of the bottle-neck.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:32 4

14. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Very nice article once again Micheal.H. it won't have much direct effect, but having 5 Nexus phones will mean that more people will find a Nexus
phone that suits them-and that will mean more phones out
there, that fully support the Android open source APIs and dont use
proprietary APIs.
All OEMs do various things to differentiate their product from
the others, but Htc and Samsung seem to do the best, ensuring
they don't break compatibility.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 16:42 3

18. hobble (Posts: 130; Member since: 11 Oct 2011)


Another article on android fragmentation? Pffft. The "ripple effects" of the nexus program will be less different android phones being produced as consumers will likely be drawn to the nexus brand if ALL manufacturers create a version. And probably more manufacturers producing phones of a different OS to make up for lost revenue from flooding different versions of the same phone out on the market.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 17:45 3

28. cncrim (Posts: 501; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)


I like that, that's great stradegy...... can they execute it?

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 19:21 2

35. snowman (Posts: 11; Member since: 07 Oct 2012)


Quote: 'Samsung may not always be the best about pushing updates, but since it began working with Google for the Nexus S and then the Galaxy Nexus, Samsung has been one of the better manufacturers about launching new devices with the newest version of Android. That may not apply to Jelly Bean updates so far, but Samsung is unlikely to have gotten any early builds of Jelly Bean, because it wasn't building the launch device.'.

Just a thought on the above, if Samsung's updates are faster because of their association with Google's Nexus program, why is LG's Optimus G reported to be using ICS and not JB, it's their flagship device, especially when other manufacturers are already releasing and updating phones to JB. Isn't LG the current Nexus program lead manufacturer for phones according to media. So shouldn't they at least be able to release from day one the G with JB.

And, yes I am aware that phones are not designed overnight! Still! Maybe criticism of LG's software updates are warranted, maybe.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:14 2

43. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2670; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I'd guess that's probably due to all of the customization that has gone into the LG Optimus G. The Q slider and all of that stuff takes a lot of work, so LG has likely been working on that for a long time.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:42 2

47. cretinick (Posts: 147; Member since: 25 Jan 2011)


Or maybe the speculations about a 4.2 Android version is true. And LG is working with the next version of Android that can't be put in the Optimus G yet. So, they will upgrade the Optimus G from ICS to 4.2 (Jelly Bean with Road Runner or Key Lime Pie).

But I know that is too good to be true...

We will only know the truth when Google resolve start to sing.

All I know is that expectation is almost giving me an ulcer.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 22:19 1

48. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


Well, just to put it in perspective, The note2 launched with JB.. which I think makes it the first non Nexus to launch with JB if im not mistaken. Considering android's history, its getting a bit quicker from google update to new phone launch than it used to be.

The optimus G hasnt launched yet. There is still time for a JB upgrade... or one shortly after launch.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 19:27 2

36. someones4 (Posts: 619; Member since: 16 Sep 2012)


A good move from google. But as i mentioned: why not sooner? Nexus notes and nexus razrs everywhere. No one will bitch about late updates anymore.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 19:52 2

37. Evil_SaNz (Posts: 258; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


People need objective journalism...I appreciate when reviewers try to find the best and worst of "both" worlds. Even other huge tech sites that I thought biased now have no excuses. For the iphone 5, the reviewer said: "Probably the best smartphone for the masses, but consider me a geek - I'll stick with android 4.1

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:13 2

42. pikapowerize (banned) (Posts: 1869; Member since: 03 May 2012)


i dont understand... how can a manufacturers benifit if google will only release a nexus once a year!

and worst part is they will again partner with samsung... very bias!

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:34 4

45. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


Because supposedly most all brands are going to be flaunting a Nexus device this year. The point is that the manufacturers will all have faster access to the next software update if they have a Nexus device in their stable.

If your a company that has a Nexus device, you get test software months before its released that you can be basing your overlay (sense, touchwiz, ect) on. If you dont have a Nexus in your line up, you get the software the same time as everyone else.. when google puts it in the public repository.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 22:34 1

49. pikapowerize (banned) (Posts: 1869; Member since: 03 May 2012)


ok i know but that's not what i mean...

i know that if you have a nexus in your company, you'll have easy updates right?!

but what i mean is...why only one nexus? and worst only samsung will get all the love of android goodies... nexus s, galaxy nexus, the rumored galaxy nexus 2 and nexus 10!

i was excited about xperia nexus, one nexus, razr nexus (not really about optimus nexus, not now as long as LG knows how to marry/combine software and hardware)

but i do hope that most of the brands will flaunt nexus line!

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 10:13

59. cretinick (Posts: 147; Member since: 25 Jan 2011)


But that is exactly what the new Nexus policy is supposed to be!

Everybody can launch Nexus. Get early access to the new Android versions, get the know how in manipulation of the new version before it be launched, and make their, UI, Widget and aplications faster.

I just don't know how google will handle with all these companies working together. And how google will manage the future atualizations of a vast number of devices.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 21:36 3

46. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


Good article Michael,
you pulled a new angle on the process of having multiple nexus (nexi?) that I had not thought of with more manufacturers having much quicker access to the next update to use for their own UI's.

Now that makes me wonder if google puts a restriction on the manufacturers that they are not allowed to use the Beta code for UI development until a certain point in the development timeline, like gold status... or if they are free to develop for themselves the moment they get the update code.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 23:24

51. JunkCreek (Posts: 402; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


May be Google can make standard Os just like Windows but yet, users still can customize it the way users want. Average users with computers only need tweaking not modifing the system even system kernels.

If Google can make Standard Android OS, then all the problems is solved and all become to depend on hardware structure compactibility just like on PCs/Laptops.

Imagine we can install any Android OS version on any phones with the needed only for it's phone driver just like on PCs/Laptops. It could be fun.

posted on 10 Oct 2012, 23:54 1

52. mas11 (Posts: 1029; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


This is one of the reasons Michael H is my favorite writer on this site, awesome article. (Btw no offense to the rest of the PA staff)
PS. John Vvvvvvvvvv haha love your reviews

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 00:09 1

53. Sniggly (Posts: 6998; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Excellent article. My only disappointment with the new Nexus program is that, other than the potentially fake rumors about the Motorola Occam, there's no mention of a Motorola Nexus.

However, I've said it before and I'll say it again, the primary delay in updates these days comes from the carriers. It's not glaringly obvious here in the US because there are so few examples of unlocked phones, but international variants of devices get the updates so much sooner than the US versions. Also, there are examples of devices like the Xoom. The Verizon version got ICS six months after the Wifi version did. Also, the Wifi version already has Jelly Bean, while the Verizon version still hasn't.

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 13:45

62. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)


sorry if im wrong but why would motorola need to be a nexus? The only things a nexus gets is quick updates and better support. wouldnt motorola get quick updates anyway coz its owned by google. Google may even get rid of motoblur or keep it as a customization option turned on by default and may even advise motorola about what hardware would be best for the os. the result is that every motorola device is sort of a nexus even though it doesnt say so. I think thats exactly what google is planning to do and thats why theres no motorola nexus.

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 00:59

54. Dragonov (Posts: 5; Member since: 11 Oct 2012)


Long time reader of phonearena's articles and Micheal h. you are by far the best writer on this site, looking forward to more of your articles. Also why isn't there any sd slots on any nexus device? is that to keep cost down?

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 10:26

60. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2670; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I covered that back in November:
http://www.phonearena.com/news/Why-Google-wants-to-kill-SD-cards-and-whats-holding-them-back_id23986

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 14:42

63. Dragonov (Posts: 5; Member since: 11 Oct 2012)


of course you did ;D haha ill get reading

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 06:31

57. ibap (Posts: 695; Member since: 09 Sep 2009)


Can there ever truly be a CDMA Nexus device?

If you're cut off from updates directly from Google, what does 'Nexus' mean in that context?

As an Android user who has flashed custom ROMs, but refuses to accept the this-part-isn't-working-but-that's-OK approach, will we ever see a true Nexus CDMA device? Something major has to change if that is to be the case.

posted on 11 Oct 2012, 12:44

61. ChafedBanana (Posts: 359; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)


Google SHOULD clamp down on Verizon. What makes VZW so special? Total B.S.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Want to comment? Please login or register.

Latest stories