GOOGLE may be planning to kill the Nexus line soon in a bid to focus more on the top-end segment with the upcoming Android Silver range. According to a report by TheInformation.com, Google plans to offer a premium Android experience with Silver line of products, starting with the US.
"The expensive effort involves dumping the Nexus phone brand in favour of a new programme called Silver, under which manufacturers and wireless carriers will be paid to produce and sell high-end devices that closely adhere to Google specifications, according to four people briefed on the project," the report claims.
The internet titan will severely restrict the number of non-Google apps pre-installed on Android Silver products, in a bid to crack down on bloatware. As per Google's mandate, if carriers and manufacturers choose to put their apps on these handsets, users must be able to uninstall them. At present, apps preloaded by manufacturers and carriers cannot be uninstalled unless the device is rooted.
Android Silver products will also get prompt software updates and will have top-end features like advanced voice recognition and water resistance. These features will help position it better against other top-end devices like iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones, which dominate the US market.
In a way, these rumoured Android Silver products will be similar to Google Play Edition devices, which include some of the top devices by manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and LG but without any software customizations.
Google Play Edition devices feature stock Android software, but are still sold with the branding of the manufacturer — like Samsung, HTC and Sony — not Google. Instead, Android Silver devices are expected to carry Google's branding, not the manufacturer's.
Unlike Google Play Edition and Nexus products, Android Silver devices will be heavily promoted by the internet search giant. The report, citing four sources at the company, says that Google will spend up to $1 billion on marketing this upcoming range.
In the US, both Nexus and Google Play Edition devices are available only via the company's online store; Google Play Edition devices are not sold outside the US. However, Google will reportedly set up kiosks at telecom carriers' stores to market Android Silver devices, with especially trained employees showing top features to prospective buyers.
The report says that Google has already roped in LG and Motorola to produce the first Android Silver devices. Other potential partners in this programme are said to be Chinese companies looking to penetrate the high-end smartphone market of the US. Samsung, HTC and Sony are, however, still not convinced to join the programme.
This is not the first time that rumours about Google killing the Nexus line have surfaced on the internet. In January this year, a Russian tech blogger tweeted that the Nexus line will be replaced by Google Play Edition products in 2015.
It is not yet clear if and when the Android Silver programme will be rolled out in markets like India and Brazil, where telecom carriers do not subsidize smartphones.