[Editorial] Google's Rumored New Nexus Focus for Android Could Lead to Great Things

Discussion in 'Android Tablet News' started by dgstorm, May 16, 2012.

  1. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief Staff Member

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    By now, most of you have probably heard the newest rumors reported from The Wall Street Journal that Google plans to expand their Nexus program to a whole new level. When you bring everything together, their grand plan starts to come become clear, and the future of Android could be incredible for the consumer. Supposedly, their new focus will be to create a plethora of Nexus-style pure Google Android devices that will sell in the Google Play Store. Furthermore, according to the report, rather than cherry picking a single manufacturer, they will be working with five different manufacturers on multiple Nexus devices. Here's a breakdown of how things seem to be evolving:
    1. Rumors begin to surface of a Google Branded Nexus Tablet.
    2. Google begins selling unlocked Galaxy Nexus on the Google Play Store for only $400, opening the door for the concept of a carrier free, no-contract experience.
    3. This newest rumor suggests that Google plans to expand this program to include a host of Google branded Nexus devices, including tablets and phones, that come from five different OEMs.
    4. If this turns out to be true, Google finally finds a way to focus the Android ecosystem and offer a truly Google Android experience for consumers.
    Now, obviously, there is some speculation thrown in here, but let's see how far down this rabbit hole we can go. Here's a list of benefits that become obvious: (Feel free to suggest any more I might have missed.)
    • This will improve the consistency and accountability of the Android OS and reduce fragmentation. (Which has always been one of the biggest complaints against Android.)
    • You can get a purely Google Android phone free of carrier bloatware and add-on UIs.
    • Regular updates to the OS will come quicker and more reliably.
    • By partnering up with multiple manufacturers for Nexus devices, it gives consumers more choice, but allows Google to control the quality and functionality of the product.
    • The consumer will not be locked into a specific carrier or contract. This would force carriers to become more competitive with their pricing.
    • The total cost of ownership could potentially be reduced, thus giving you the option to upgrade your phone every year, instead of every two years.
    • The phones would be unlocked so the world of custom ROMS and mods would be wide-open for those so inclined. (This would make things easier for devs too.)
    It's important to note that Google tried this before back in 2010, but of course, the carriers balked at this. It's not surprising because the carriers love to keep their customers locked into two-year agreements, and they would probably try to fight this tooth and nail. However, this time, Google has built enough of a brand following with Android, that they could pretty easily exert enough pressure to force this into reality. This would represent a major paradigm shift in the way Google handles the Android business, and would show the world that Google is committed to Android in a big way.

    It's interesting how this concept would allow Google to continue to be open with Android, yet would also allow them to exert more control and keep things focused. It seems almost paradoxical but this new Nexus convergence seems to merge some of the concepts of Apple's focused design aesthetic with Google's open source mindset. The future evolution of Android could get quite interesting very soon. Share your thoughts.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
  2. MA83

    MA83 Member

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    Best news in Android that I've heard yet!
     
  3. Tom T

    Tom T Senior Member

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    I would hate to see this resulting in a situation where it cuts down on innovation and choice. The minute Google starts tightly defining hardware parameters the devices, and my concern is only tablets here, could start looking awfully similar. Would the Transformer with the keyboard dock ever have made it to market? More important maybe if a tablet lacks the Google Nexus moniker could it still compete in the marketplace?
    I think we will always have the Chinese tablets and its possible we would end up looking to them for new and possibly more open designs.
    As far as phones go I would welcome the ability to buy an unlocked cutting edge phone without having to pay ridiculously inflated prices charged by the carriers to ensure you sign a long term contract.
     
  4. MA83

    MA83 Member

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    I don't think that this would stifle innovation as it would guide it. The main problem with Android is hardware software compatibility. A little more oversight by and direction by Google an resolve a LOT of those issues. Not to mention a reasonably priced unlocked, uncontaminated device that will work on any network with any provider will get providers moving in the right direction. There really is no reason why wireless rates are so expensive. There is no reason why my wireless bill for my wife and I is $175 a month while the high speed internet in town is $30. The telecom companies will claim infrastructure development, but even in rural South Dakota we have 3G pretty much everywhere with 4G a year away. The major infrastructure is in place. Yet prices have not gone down and wireless providers continue to find ridiculous ways to leech even more money from you!
     
  5. Bruinx97

    Bruinx97 Member

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    I hope that Google doesn't fold to the demands of the wireless companies in order to produce profit and please the shareholders, which always seems to be the #1 concern for companies in corporate America. If Google has the 'balls' to stand up to them and truly keep things 'open' and unlocked, this would be great.

    And this would indeed force the wireless companies to lower their prices and focus on the customers, by promoting and nurturing customer loyalty through customer service and satisfaction, instead of forcing it down our throats with long term contracts.
     
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  6. Tom T

    Tom T Senior Member

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    I think its important to distinguish between the phone and tablet market. Although the major wireless carriers would have us believe the wifi only tablet is a dinosaur hovering on the brink of extinction, I'm not willing to concede this.
     
  7. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, MA83 and Bruinx97 but I think you are both wrong on this one as far as phones go. First of all the devices will not "work on any network with any provider." There are differences in the spectrum bands and how they are implemented even on LTE. That means you still have to buy a Verizon phone or AT&T phone etc. Though you are not locked into a contract by buying an unlocked and unsubsidized phone the reality is you can't freely take that device from carrier to carrier. So while you are not technically locked in you probably still aren't going to switch phones at unsubsidized prices just to change carriers. It is the same option you have now but most people balk at the unsubsidzed prices and choose to lock in. So no change there really.

    As far as the costs, yes the wireless companies do make profits but the majority of your bill actually does go into the associated expenses. The infrastructure costs are extremely high. Switching from 2G to 3G to LTE isn't simply flipping switches and a pc somewhere in corporate headquarters. Their profits are not out of line with other companies. So while the services may cost more than we would prefer to pay they are not absurdly high.

    What this will do is reduce the role of the wireless carriers regarding the hardware and software used on their networks. There is really no reason they should have the ability to dictate the hardware or the software used on it just as ISPs don't tell you what kind of computer to have. So Brunix point about customer service and satisfaction is valid as the wireless companies that do this the best are the most likely to entice customers to buy hardware for their network.

    At the moment you have a 3 way blame game between the wireless carriers, the OEMs and Google for various Android issues. Google offering pure devices directly means the hardware OEMs won't be able to blame Google and the carriers for slow software updates on these devices. This won't completely change the market as the majority of devices will probably still be offered through subsidies by the wireless carriers and the blame game can continue between the OEMs and the wireless carriers. It does give customers another option though and will show what Android can be without all the underlying mess for those willing to pay the full cost for pure devices up front.

    Bottom line is it doesn't create more carrier competition and therefore better prices for the wireless customers. You still have to buy the service and the service providers are still going to charge what they want. Since the hardware is going to be unsubsidized and you need a provider anyway many people will just see these as prohibitively expensive phones. Why pay $200-$300 more if all you have to do is sign a contract for a service you are going to use anyway?

    This move will free Android from some of the negative associations though by showing people that for those who take the Google option Android works well without bloating, skinning and delays. If all this does is remove the OEMs and wireless carriers from inhibiting Android then it will be a success for Google. As MA83 said the guidance by Google can resolve a lot of issues. The carriers and OEMs will be forced to make quality changes (and Android being open source some changes really are for the better) rather than ones that don't bring anything to the table and simply slow down the update cycle or bloat the devices.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  8. MA83

    MA83 Member

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    If you want to see how much overhead there isbjust look at the unlimited no contract companies that buy access to the larger companies' facilities at discounted bulk rates and are still able to turn a profit. There is plenty of bloat in the wireless carriers. Likewise, there is plenty of mark-up on phones by carriers that acts as incentive to sign up for the extended contract. You can't tell me that a phone the carrier is providing for free would really retail for $600. As for the differences in wireless technology, OEMs are already producing similar phones that work on different carriers. You just buy the unlocked phone that fits your preference. However, opening up the unlocked market could motivate OEMs to seek out creatng phone that with the right hardware to access multiple networks. I always felt that this is something held back by the current relationsips between the OEMs and the wireless carriers. So, this is a move that really could revolutionize the wireless market and truley foster competition.
     
  9. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Unfortunately it is far more complicated than that. There is a finite supply of spectrum and it is considred a national resource. The government controls it and leases it out. AT&Ts CEO made the point the the most efficient use of spectrum would be to let one company have it all. Is that really what we want? Yes there is room in both the wireless industry and hardware industry to stream line and increase margins. That is the way business works though and there are a variety of reasons why each of these industries has the pricing they do. The same can be said for oil, beef, healthcare or just about any other industry you want to look at.

    You might find these articles interesting primers on the various topics.

    This article covers many issues.
    Unlimited data is dead, so let's fight a smarter fight | The Verge

    Sprint loses money subsidizing iPhones (why don't we just tell Apple they need to sell them to us at cost right ;)) and may not see profit for a few years.
    Sprint CEO: iPhone deal will pay off 'over time' | The Verge

    T-Mobile shedding jobs (this is what happens when you ask for cutting the bloat), needs spectrum and funds to roll out LTE network.
    T-Mobile USA's latest restructuring: net loss of 350 jobs | The Verge and T-Mobile USA's Philipp Humm announces restructuring, 'difficult decisions' to staff | The Verge

    Verizon buying spectrum and spectrum compatibility issues.
    FCC asks Verizon to explain its conditional 700MHz spectrum sale | The Verge

    I picked one site that was easily able to filter a certain topic but it goes on and on. You can't simply tell companies to charge less for their services or products. If we did want to go that route, yes we could have the government dictate one standard for all parts of the spectrum and that hardware must must be inter-operable in all the ranges of spectrum but at what cost to a free market and innovation? The first link lays out some of the basics and ways of dealing with the issues most of which require a change in thinking not in forcing companies to give us lower prices on services and hardware.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  10. yann2

    yann2 Senior Member

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    The greediness of the carriers is unbeliavable - compare service prices for North American carriers with Japan, Korea and even European ones would be interesting.

    In Canada, the '$0' phone (or whatever low cost they advertise) is tied into a 3 year contract, with high cancellation penalties. 50% worse than American 2 year contracts.

    We have 3 major incumbents, and some smaller companies that sell services using the large guys networks. The best deals, for my use and mind set, are on pre-paid service, with an unlocked phone.

    I think the Nexus branded hardware as discussed on the original post would be excellent - enough of small companies that are not able to (or refuse) to support users and products properly. (Matsunichi/Le Pan, I am pointing at you :p)
     
  11. Tom T

    Tom T Senior Member

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    The problem with most the prepaid carriers like Virgin Mobile, Boost, Net Ten etc. is their lack of roaming. There are places, many places actually, where they simply won't work. Not a problem if you live in a major metropolitan area or along most interstate corridors but get out of range of one of the carriers towers (usually Sprint) and you are out of luck.
     

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