Google First

According to Nick Statt at the Verge, Google is moving on from the Nexus brand in favor of Google branding:

Google is dropping the Nexus branding with its two upcoming, HTC-made smartphones. Instead, the company is expected to market the devices under a different name and to lean heavily on the Google brand in the process.

Not only that, but Google’s next phone may not even ship with stock Android.

The report states Google will load the devices with a special version of Android Nougat, as opposed to the standard “vanilla” version of the operating system that’s shipped on past and current Nexus devices. We don’t know for sure what these changes or additions will be. But Google CEO Sundar Pichai said as much back in June, when he mentioned the company would be more “opinionated” about Nexus design. “You’ll see us hopefully add more features on top of Android on Nexus phones,” he said at the Recode Code Conference.

I had always assumed the purpose of the Nexus line was primarily to provide OEMs with a reference design for the ideal Android experience, but what I found instead while looking for confirmation was this 2010 post on Google’s blog announcing the Nexus S (emphasis mine):

As part of the Nexus brand, Nexus S delivers what we call a “pure Google” experience: unlocked, unfiltered access to the best Google mobile services and the latest and greatest Android releases and updates.

While Nexus owners have long benefited from the latest and purest Android experience, it’s clear to me now that Nexus was always more about Google than it ever was about Android (or open source). I’ve already written about Google’s habit of replacing open source Android capabilities with closed source counterparts from Play. Now it looks like they are taking the next step and adding even more proprietary functionality with their own proprietary version of Android1.