Google’s plan to cut out carriers: Sell a bunch of Android 5.0 Nexus devices directly to consumers

Google Play devices store Galaxy NexusIn Hollywood, sequels always have to be bigger and better than their predecessors. Google seems to agree. According to a new report by WSJ, Google is planning to change its strategy with new Android releases. In the past, it has worked with one manufacturer — Motorola, HTC, and Samsung are favorites so far — to create a single Google ‘Nexus’ branded phone or tablet. With the upcoming Android 5.0 (codenamed “Jelly Bean”), Google will offer a ‘portfolio’ of Nexus phones and tablets from as many as five manufacturers. If that’s not a big enough change, Google will also sell them all directly to consumers (you and me) through the new Devices section of the Google Play store

Mimicking Microsoft

The change in direction is huge, putting Google’s strategy more in line with the likes of Microsoft, which attempts to launch new versions of Windows and Windows Phone with a flurry of new devices. Though Google has made great strides improving the design and performance of Android, it is still taking manufacturers anywhere from 3-12+ months to upgrade their devices to the newest version of Android. For example, with Android 4.0, Google worked with Samsung to create the Galaxy Nexus. This is a fantastic phone, but even now, five months later, it remains one of the only Android 4.0 phones available. New devices are only starting to trickle out with Google’s updated operating system. The slowness isn’t hurting it now, but could hinder Android when stiffer competition, like Microsoft’s Windows 8, enter’s the market.

will windows phone 7 finally win microsoft the respect it deserves ballmerReducing fragmentation

The one thing that separates Android from other operating systems like Windows is that Google offers it for free to anyone (or any company) who wants to use it. Android is an open-source project. Anyone can download it and modify it however they like. But making it free has lead to most manufacturers tinkering around with it as they please, sometimes to the benefit of users, sometimes not.

By offering early versions of Android to more manufacturers, Google can insist that they implement ‘vanilla’ or clean versions of Android, devoid of the confusing and ‘fragmenting’ user interface modifications that have become commonplace in almost all devices. It can also expand its Nexus branding enough so that more consumers know that the best Android tablets and smartphones are those branded with Google’s Nexus.

Selling through Google Play

Google Nexus One online storeThough Google supposedly plans to sell new devices directly through its Google Play online store, we assume it will also allow manufacturers to sell these devices in stores like Best Buy, or strike deals up with carriers as well. The attempt to directly sell phones is also likely a covert attempt to break or weaken the incredible amount of control US carriers have over the distribution of phones.

In many European countries and other regions of the world, people buy their phones separately from their phone carriers, but in the US, wireless carriers have tightly bundled phones with two-year contracts, giving consumers a discount on a device in exchange for a guarantee that they’ll remain a customer for 24 months. This model hides the costs of phones, lowering their price from $600 or $700 to $200 or $300, but ends in customers paying much more for their wireless service and being locked in to contracts for years.

Google tried to directly sell its Nexus One device back in 2010, but was thwarted by the wireless carriers, who disliked the idea. It’s good to see Google not giving up on its idea. AmazonWireless may soon have some stiff competition.

Will the strategy work?

It sounds like a great idea to us. We can’t imagine that carrier’s are happy about Google selling more devices through their website, but carriers have begun to allow companies like Amazon to sell contracted phones online and retailers like Best Buy have made big inroads selling devices from all carriers. In addition, the idea of a no-contract phone is a bit more acceptable today than it was a couple years ago. We imagine that manufacturers are quite happy to be able to work more closely with Google and compete to have a new Android 5.0 device on the day the platform is unveiled, even if they have to give up a little in the way of branding and user interface customization. Most of all, this could lead to a lot more quality Android products on the market at more competitive prices. To us, that’s a good thing.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Mobile

With Galaxy S10e, Samsung unapologetically rips a page out of Apple’s playbook

Samsung's Galaxy S10e -- a new entry in the Galaxy S-series -- has a few things in common with Apple's lower-cost iPhone XR. From the price tag to the color, we take a look atthe similarities.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Mobile

The 2-year-old Nokia 6 is now being updated to Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

First phone specs reveal premium is the path for Vivo spinoff Iqoo

A new smartphone brand has launched. It's called Iqoo, and it's a sub-brand of Vivo, the Chinese device manufacturer owned by BBK Electronics. Excitingly, details about its first phone are slowly being released.
Smart Home

Google Home and Amazon Alexa are asking smart home device makers for user info

Google and Amazon want to establish a "continuous flow" of information between their servers and your smart home devices, but companies like Logitech have begun to speak out for user privacy.
Product Review

If price is top of mind, Samsung’s Galaxy S10e is the flagship phone to buy

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus are joined with a new entry into the Galaxy S family -- the Galaxy S10e. It costs a little more than the original price of the Galaxy S9, but it’s meant to be the more affordable phone compared to the…
Product Review

Samsung's Galaxy S10 phones are its most refined yet. Be prepared to pay up

Samsung has unveiled its lineup for its most popular smartphones, and it includes the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. The two flagship phones boast hole-punch cameras, fingerprint sensors embedded in the display, and beefier batteries.
Mobile

Samsung goes big with the next-gen Galaxy S10 5G smartphone

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.
Mobile

Folding smartphones hinge on the success of the Samsung Galaxy Fold

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. S10 Plus vs. S10e vs. S10 5G: Which should you buy?

With four stunning Galaxy S10 phones to choose from, Samsung is bombarding us with choice, but which one should you buy? We compare the S10, S10 Plus, S10e, and S10 5G in various categories to find out exactly how they differ.
Wearables

Samsung's new Galaxy Watch Active can track your blood pressure

Looking for a new fitness buddy? Samsung just launched the Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit, two new wearables with a raft of fitness-focused features that'll keep you moving and get you down the gym.
Mobile

Here’s where you can buy the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S10

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced, however, you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.
Mobile

Adobe Premiere Rush CC is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S10 this year

The Samsung Galaxy S10 boasts a number of hardware improvements over previous Samsung phones, but it also offers a few software improvements too. Adobe Premiere Rush CC, for example, is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S10 later this year.
Mobile

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.