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October 5, 2016

No More Nexus Devices

After the launch of Google's Pixel phones, many people wondered if the Nexus brand will be retired or we'll still see Nexus phones, tablets and other Android devices. It looks like the first answer is accurate. According to The Verge, Google says that there are no plans for future Nexus products.

"The idea was to show everyone how it should be done," says Brian Rakowski, VP of product management for Android. "All the partners in the phone manufacturing space took it and built great products on top of it. Meanwhile, Nexus kind of trundled along at the same small scale."

Nexus was the reference Android phone and was mostly for developers and early adopters. Google sent mixed messages: some of the phones were heavily subsidized, others were more expensive, design and features were rarely consistent from one generation to another.

With Android's beta program and Google's efforts to give manufacturers early access to the Android code, Nexus devices became less important. There are also inexpensive "flagship killers" like the OnePlus 3, which only costs $399.

Google got serious about hardware and started to build an ecosystem of devices that work together: phones, tablets, laptops, routers, VR headsets, smart speakers, smart gadgets for your TV. Some of them are great, others will get better or be replaced by products that better fit inside the ecosystem. Google finally realized that "people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware," as Alan Kay said and Steve Jobs quoted.

Challenging Apple when it comes to selling premium hardware is quite difficult. Apple consistently delivers great products, while Google's products are hit and miss (examples of bad apples: Nexus Q, Pixel C, Glass, Nexus 9). Apple has a long-term vision for products, while Google's plans are always changing with many casualties along the way.

"It's very challenging to work on dozens of products and make them all terrific. We have to have a lot of discipline and a lot of focus," says Rick Osterloh, Google's head of hardware and Motorola's former president.

For now, Google admits that Pixel phones "aren't going to have enormous volumes", as this is only the first iteration of the product. The good news is that "touch latency [on the Pixel] is the best of any Android device ever produced. If you put it under high-speed camera, it's on par with an iPhone."

Google has big plans when it comes to hardware and hopes to eventually sell a lot of them. Even if that means competing against its own partners. "We’re no longer going to be shy about what we think is the right answer for us. What we are going to do is give the OEM ecosystem a chance to compete, meaning it’s a fair playing field," says Rishi Chandra, VP of product management for home products.

{ via The Verge }


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