Google might be back to try its hand at hardware one more time as it grapples with the fragmentation issue that seems to grow wider with the launch of each Android iteration.
Google could again be exploring the option of developing its own Android smartphone which could pose a serious challenge to the best out there – read iPhone. Such a possibility has categorically been ruled out by CEO Sunder Pichai at the company’s Code Conference held last month but new reports on these points otherwise.
Google’s official stand on this has been that it will increase its control over the Nexus hardware to ensure those eventually turn out to be the type of showpiece Android devices as has been conceptualized by them. So far, the Mountain View company had left it to its OEM partners to deal with the manufacturing of the Nexus handsets so long as they adhere to certain minimum hardware specifications.
Not any more as Google has let it known they would be watching things closely so as to ensure the Nexus handsets offers the best possible Android experience to its users. Whether that amounts to adopting the Apple model is not known but that surely is the cornerstone. The iPhone is built to the exact specifications that its iOS platform allows for, which in turn allows for a superior user experience, better in many respects than its Android counterparts.
In contrast, Android, with all the open source goodness that it embodies, has often been left to deal with the ugly side of it. That’s fragmentation and Google is yet to come up with a firm policy on how best to tackle its menace. With so many manufacturers out there each offering their own ‘version’ of Android, while that allows for a rich variety and options for buyers, this makes it harder for updates to be pushed through.
Couple to that the carriers’ tendency to put in their own bit – read bloatware – on the devices they support and the enormity of the issue becomes evident all the more. In the end, Google is left with just a miniscule percentage that upgrades to the latest Android version with the majority of them continuing with older versions.
Compare that to iOS where the overwhelming majority upgrade to the latest iOS version with just a small fraction of them continuing with the erstwhile versions.
However, while details about the upcoming Google branded smartphone continue to be hazy, there are reports of it being readied for a launch around end-2016. Towards that, Google is even believed to have initiated dialogue with the carriers as all. Google’s hiring of the former president of Motorola, Rick Osterloh to head a hardware division can be further proof of something cooking on that front.
So while the above does sound encouraging from the end user’s point of view, there still are a few questions that demands a proper response. For instance, what would be the fate of the Nexus range in general in the years to come? Or more specifically, what fate awaits the two Nexus devices codenamed Sailfish and Marlin that is being put together by HTC? Further, will Google continue to hang on to its Nexus strategy by offering flagship levels of performance at a lower price point with its new smartphone offerings as well? We look forward to hearing more on this and will definitely be on the lookout for these answers.