Android is one of the most unique operating systems. Created by Google, Android is an open-source operating system that’s free for manufacturers to license and use in their devices. The concept isn’t a new one, but Android is set apart by its popularity. The OS has been picked up by nearly every major phone manufacturer and permeates our lives in ways that we may not even realize. A recessive trait of open source, however, is that there are few examples of what pure Android is.
In 2010, Google created a solution for the problem: the Nexus program. The Nexus One was the first of the new breed of pure, stock Android devices that came directly came from Google. With a few exceptions, the entire Nexus family has been sold off-contract, directly through Google. Such a strategy gives Google control over updates for the devices, allowing them to be pushed in a timely manner. But is the Nexus line perfect?
The answer is a resounding no. A product of its own design, Google has made sure that the Nexus line won’t make it into the hands of a vast number of consumers. The Nexus family comes at a price: carrier backing, manufacturer support and a good distribution channel are all left at the door when a device is branded with the Nexus logo.
Several years in, the rumor mill is pointing towards Google’s plans to remedy the Nexus line and rein in Android. The solution is summed up in two little words.
Android Silver is Google’s move to both free the Nexus program and regain some control over Android. For those not in the know, Android Silver is Google’s rumored program to replace the Nexus program. Android Silver will include partnerships between Google and manufacturers for top-shelf Android phones that will run a near-stock version of Android with a very limited number of non-Google apps that consumers can uninstall if they desire. The devices will get speedy updates and have a user experience with little differences across devices.
That sounds like a pretty raw deal for manufacturers that are used to having their own way. To repay them, Google will heavily market the Android Silver devices to consumers, even partnering with carriers to have the hardware sold in carrier stores, something that is still a cause of a great many device purchases. In the end, the agreement balances out to provide a fair deal on both sides.
The logical question to ask is what benefits does Android Silver bring over the Nexus program? Several, the first of which is a lack of exclusivity. The Nexus program has always been more exclusive than the cool kids group at the local high school, allowing only one device at a time in each category. Android Silver is the superhero who breaks up the cliques by allowing more manufacturers to create high-end stock Android devices at the same time.
Another reason? Android Silver ditches the niche market of the Nexus program. Rather than targeting the developers and enthusiasts, Android Silver will dive headfirst into the consumer market to bring Google’s devices to the masses. With a strong branding and advertising push, Android Silver could quickly become the next household name to compete with those Galaxy phones.
Still looking for a third reason? Does a defined high-end experience satisfy? The Nexus line has always straddled that gap between mid-range and high-end, never venturing too far into either camp. Android Silver takes a different approach. Android Silver phones may be required to be the highest of the high-end, the flagships to drive Android forward. For many, this would make the phones worth an investment.
It’s clear that Android Silver is the right program to replace the Nexus program and the only downside now is the wait until it arrives. But for something this good, this — in the words of Apple — revolutionary, we can wait. In the end, it’ll all be worth it.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off below.