Google has removed the Verizon version of its Galaxy Nexus from all support pages and its list of Android Open Source Project products, effectively nixing it from its flagship ‘Nexus’ program, reports The Verge. The move has been attributed to Verizon’s continued reluctance to support the Google Wallet feature. Updates below.
Verizon has been dragging its feet on adopting the Google Wallet standard for a while now, with Verizon’s Jeffrey Nelson blaming its desire to have the “best security and user experience” in payment systems for the delay.
The delay has apparently been too long for Google and it has orphaned the Galaxy Nexus from its flagship program. Google responded with the following statement when asked about the removal of support documents from its system:
Google is also a developer within this ecosystem and we want to offer the apps we develop such as Google Wallet, so people have access to the full range of functionality offered by the platform.
This appears to place the blame for the change squarely on the backs of Verizon’s failure to adopt the Google Wallet standard. This news comes just a day after indications that the GSM (read AT&T) version of the Galaxy Nexus in the US would support the Google Wallet payment system.
Under this new arrangement, the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus won’t get updates pushed out immediately from Google and would need to get them solely from the carrier. This sort of kills the point of it being a ‘Nexus’ device, which traditionally gets updates almost immediately after Google issues them.
This is a very aggressive case of Google exercising one of its ‘big sticks’, the availability of software updates, in order to force carriers and makers to toe the line when it comes to feature updates. Unfortunately, this is likely to hurt customers more than it does Verizon as they will now be waiting longer for software updates and, if the lockout continues, may end up getting a version of Ice Cream Sandwich that has a bunch of ‘special Verizon additions’ instead of the stock version that they’re used to.
As a Verizon Galaxy Nexus user myself, I’m fairly torn. I want to see the carriers have less control over the software on my phone and would like every Android feature to arrive there unaltered, but delaying updates is a fairly consumer-hostile way to make this happen. How this plays out should be very interesting indeed.
Update: Verizon has reached out to The Verge to say that it will continue to support the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus with official firmware updates and that its earlier response that referred to Google Wallet was ‘incorrect’. So, that’s good news for consumers, but still leaves the future of Google Wallet in question.