updated 06:31 pm EDT, Tue May 15, 2012
Search giant attempts to downplay Motorola buyout
Google is reportedly preparing to shift its Android strategy away from exclusive partnerships that have resulted in the existing Nexus-branded devices. The search giant is said to be embracing multiple hardware makers that will simultaneously develop different devices powered by the next major Android release, referred to as Jelly Bean, unnamed sources have told The Wall Street Journal (sub. required).
Existing devices carrying the Nexus badge have been secretly co-developed by Google and one hardware partner at a time. The partner has transitioned between major players, however each Nexus smartphone has a slight edge by arriving on the market with the latest version of Google's mobile OS while competitors scramble to catch up.
When Google moved to acquire Motorola Mobility, the $12.5 billion buyout raised concerns that the search company was planning to collude with the handset maker to consolidate control of the hardware and software sides of the Android platform. Potential anticompetitive concerns were not substantial enough for the Department of Justice to block the deal, however Motorola's rivals in the smartphone arena are believed to be closely watching the situation.
The recent sources claim Google's new Android strategy is driven by a desire to offset lingering angst over the acquisition. The number of simultaneous participants that will now be involved in Android development and early access is said to be expanding to five companies, including tablet and smartphone makers.
The original Nexus program allowed Google to maintain tight control over the software experience, giving little room for carriers to push their own demands. The expanded partnerships are said maintain the same goal, as the entire Nexus portfolio is expected to be distributed directly from the search company's website. It remains unclear if the strategy will prove successful, following lackluster sales when the Nexus One was offered as a direct buy. Google currently offers the Galaxy Nexus from the Google Play store as an unlocked model, bypassing carrier restrictions and ensuring that buyers receive timely updates.
The full range of Jelly Bean-powered premier Android devices are said to be aimed for release sometime before Thanksgiving.