Google’s been offering a line of Nexus phones and products since 2010. The company picks a hardware partner to build a phone to run the latest version of Google’s Android software and show off just what the platform is capable of.
The Nexus One was one of the first smartphones with a 1 GHz processor. Later models pushed different boundaries by offering high quality hardware at relatively low prices.
Now there are a number of reports suggesting that Google will retire the Nexus program, and instead work with hardware partners to promote a series of high-end Android phones running stock Google software. The new program is reportedly called Android Silver.
The move makes sense. Nexus phones aren’t necessarily the models with the top specs, lowest prices, or even the most innovative features anymore. And Google’s early attempts to sidestep the traditional US smartphone distribution model (where customers buy products from wireless carriers) didn’t have a huge impact… but the growing number of pre-paid and MVNO options in the US now means there are more people paying full price for smartphones up front than there were a few years ago.
So instead of pushing its own hardware or distribution model, Google is reportedly going to work with a handful of different device makers to promote phones running Google’s software. The companies would then sell those phones through traditional retail (and carrier) outlets.
The Silver devices will still sort of be Google’s flagship phones. Google will have more control over the software that ships on those phones than it would on most Android devices — and partners will promise to offer prompt software updates and limit the third-party software loaded on the phones.
In other words, say goodbye to the idea of a next-gen Google Nexus and hello to a LG G3 Silver or Motorola Moto X Silver… or something like that. You know, if this rumor’s true. It might not be. That’s the (un)fun thing about rumors… but this one comes from some pretty reliable folks.