Google’s Nexus line of devices has become one of the most important brands for Android. With most manufacturers and carriers customizing (some would say hindering) the operating system with additional software of their own, Nexus phones have always been the place to go for the purest Android experience. However, the Nexus line has never been a huge seller due to its primarily online-based sales and the limited public awareness of the brand.
According to a report by The Information, Google will soon change that. Under a new program called ‘Silver’, Google would help offload costs to promote premium Android phones that meet specific criteria for its idea of the best Android experience.
This includes limiting the number of pre-installed apps, and/or allowing them to be easily uninstalled by the user, as well as ensuring these devices receive prompt software updates. It also means developing premium features like personalized voice recognition and water-proofing.
This limit on customization is similar to what the search giant already does with its Google Play Edition line of phones, which are essentially high-end devices running stock Android, but with a key difference in marketing. Whereas the Nexus line is hardly promoted and Google Play Edition phones are only available unsubsidized online, the Silver phones would all be available in stores.
The Information report also suggests that Google will contribute significantly to the financial costs of ad campaigns (up to a potential $1 billion, it claims), and even provide special in-store kiosks that are staffed with Google-trained employees.
All of this is meant to improve the public perception of pure Android for premium devices over the likes of Apple’s iPhone or the heavily customized Samsung Galaxy line. Rumored partners at the beginning of the program include LG, which manufactured Google’s two most recent Nexus phones, and Motorola, which Google owned until its recent sale to Lenovo.
Other possible participants are newer Chinese companies looking to break in to the high-end market, The Information claims. Manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, and Sony, on the other hand, may be less likely to participate to start due to already betting heavily on their customized software.
If implemented, it will be interesting to see how the Silver program could affect the Android hardware market. At the very least, it should help provide more options to consumers looking for the pure Android experience on a high end device.
We’ve reached out to Google; the company has declined to comment.
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