Google’s success with Android over the last couple of years has been impressive; from humble beginnings Google has amassed a loyal following, but they still aren’t making the money that Apple is.
To this end, according to industry sources, Google is planning a major shake-up of the operating system which should improve the user experience immeasurably and make them a lot more money.
Signs of change
Signs of change has been brewing for a while now; there’s been rumours that Google is planning a Nexus-like tablet, and more recently Google has talked about selling handsets directly to the consumer, eliminating the need to deal with networks and contract commitments.
Now, the final piece of he puzzle is coming into view, a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that Google will soon be offering a full range of the Nexus Devices, instead of just selecting one manufacturer per year. It’s not quite at the stage where Google will make the handset themselves a la Apple and their walled garden approach, but it’s seems to be pointing in that direction.
Google will reportedly work with up to five different manufacturers in order to offer a wide selection of stock devices — both phones and tablets.
Leaving retailers behind
There’s more: Google will then sell their new range of handsets directly to consumers sim-free via their newly re-launched Google Play Store, offering direct sales to users in the US, Europe and Asia.
Google’s grand plan does sounding enticing, and it looks to address a lot of the annoyances that come with owning an Android handset. The biggest complaint about Android is the lack on consistency across the eco-system and, of course, software fragmentation.
ICS was the first attempt at sorting out the problem, but left handsets across the world on different versions of software and left consumers wondering whether they’d ever get Ice Cream Sandwich.
Android is open source, and therefore its always going to be difficult to control the OS, with users allowed to modify software, but in many case this is one of the reasons why Android it is so popular. But, for all the positives, there’s no denying that this openness has led to unacceptable delays in software upgrade and has led developers to complain there are far too many variations in handsets when it comes to getting all important money making apps running on all handsets.
Choice and diversity is a good thing, but for many they want a purer Android experience, the very experience that Google designed themselves – rather than a handset specific manufacturer skin. The only way Google is going to offer reliable OS upgrades and a uniformity in apps, looks and design – is to rein in the handset makers and create a top tier of Nexus handsets for all tastes.
The end of Android as we know it
In theory this sounds like a great idea, and after year or two of the Nexus family handsets – were sure they’ll be the only Android handsets you can buy, that offer the full Google experience. It had been thought that Google (when it bought Motorola) might just make the handsets themselves, but this would obviously alienate the rest of the Android manufacturers – with this plan they’re trying to bring them all together, singing from the same digital hymn sheet – to the benefit of the consumer.
It will give users a variety of choice, but with all handsets running the same unmodified, regularly updated Android software – hopefully, leaving, Android fragmentation as a thing of the past. Factor in Google selling the handsets themselves via their own store sim-free and it would eliminate the level of control carriers currently exert over what you can and can’t install on your phone.
Benefits will come from the ability to change carrier at the drop of a hat – if someone offers a better deal, in theory you could jump ship at the flip of a coin – giving consumers the choice and freedom they’ve always wanted.
According to the Journal this new plan is a expected to be unveiled alongside the next version of the Android OS: Jelly Bean, which is expected by Winter 2012.
Google looks to be finally taking control of Android; with this new model everyone can still modify the platform the way they want, but Google will have their own inner circle of premium devices with the purer Android experience they designed. From hardware to software and carrier control Google might actually be able to deliver the full Google experience that they originally planned all those year’s ago.
Of course, this remains a rumour, but from the sounds of it Android could finally be the coming of age. We’ll know more soon.