Google rumored to be prepping premium Android 'Silver' devices to better compete against iPhone

Google rumored to be prepping premium Android 'Silver' devices to better compete against iPhone

Google is rumored to be working on replacing their venerable Nexus phone line with Android "Silver", a new range of premium phones they hope will better compete with Apple and the iPhone. But isn't Android winning, you might ask? Don't let the horribly segmented raw market numbers fool you, Apple still owns and makes most of the money in the premium phone space, and Google surely wants a bigger piece of that pie for Android and themselves. The information:

The expensive effort involves dumping the four-year-old Google Nexus phone brand in favor of a new program called Silver, under which manufacturers and wireless carriers will effectively be paid to produce and sell high-end devices that closely adhere to Google specifications, according to four people briefed on the project. The requirements sharply limit the number of non-Google apps that can be pre-installed on devices, or mandate that phone owners be able to uninstall them.

It's a bit odd that Google will be paying manufacturers and carriers what Apple gets paid to do, and that they'll only be "limiting" the crapware instead of forbidding it entirely (if you're going to go big, go BIG.) They will, however, be promoting technologies like water proofing, and pushing the Google suite of apps as the one true suite of apps.

Here's what Alex Dobie had to say on Android Central:

A transition towards multiple "Silver" devices raises questions over what might replace Nexus as the go-to Android developer phone. It's also unclear how tablets might figure into a post-Nexus world — Google and ASUS have had success with the affordable Nexus 7 series in recent years. And it makes the relationship between Google and Samsung, the world's biggest handset maker, all the more intriguing. Earlier this year reports from re/code suggested Samsung had agreed to pare back some of its Android customizations, and give prominence to Google's Play Store at the expense of its own content ecosystem.

I realize I'm naive, and Google and Android manufacturers still need carriers to push their products, but Apple has shown that when you make a superior product you can also offer a superior experience. Google is one of the few other companies that could, conceivably, force carriers to likewise behave themselves. Not because they're paid to — that keeps the carriers in the dominant position, "limiting" rather than "excluding" — but because they're forced to.

Part of the reason Android has been so successful is because carriers can do what they want with it. Apple sacrificed a lot of carrier good will by keeping control of their platform. I think Android is mature and solid enough to compete on the same grounds now. Instead of money, I'd like to see Google sacrifice the same carrier good will to make a better Android phone. Because that's what makes for a truly premium experience to go along with the products.

How about you?

Source: The Information via Android Central

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Google rumored to be prepping premium Android 'Silver' devices to better compete against iPhone


This is wierd. At first they said 'customize android the way you want'... then it was 'you'll want to run stock android'... Then it was 'buy a nexus for the pure android experience'... Now this. I don't get it.

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Not's about who does the customization. Stock Android is easy for the end user to customize. Carrier and manufacturer modifications are customizations for *them* that usually make it harder to do their own.

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I guess you've never used Android? You can still customize the crap out of the pure android experience. Basically, they are saying that they don't want the Android experience to be covered with another manufacturer's skin over it. Let the user customize it, not the manufacturer. The user can still add all kinds of widgets on the home screen, and lock screen. Different launchers, and icon packs, can be installed to make your phone experience completely unique. Often times, all the stuff the manufacturer does will slow down your phone, and drain your battery more quickly. Having a clean, or "pure," Android experience is they way it should be.

Quoting - Having a clean, or "pure," Android experience is they way it should be.

Very true. I have friends that use Andriod phones that reflect the same thought on the android experience. Very spot on.

90% of android users buy android because they drop to $0 on contract a few months after release and thus cheaper.

I look forward to articles such as "Inside Google's New Premium Walled Garden" and "Paying the Google 'Silver' Tax"...

I was under the impression that the strength of android was that it was decentralized, no? How presumptuous of Google to tell consumers what they should like, and what they should be buying. I'm looking forward to the revolt by android users. Perhaps a "take back the droid" campaign, with some "don't tread on my droid" flags up in the background.

You're thinking of AOSP, Android Open Source Project, Google has no control over there.

However, if you want to provide Android with Google's services, than you have to follow Google's rules since Google owns their services. None of Google services are open source including Google's Play Store.

"I think Android is mature and solid enough to compete on the same grounds now."

But why would they? I could ( and have) made similar arguments about the App Store and iOS restrictions, e.g. is mature enough to allow compete against it on an even footing" or "iOS is mature enough to allow other apps to compete for default spots." But Apple won't do what I want, for the same reason that Google won't do what you want.

Companies don't change successful formulas unless they are damn sure the change will be more than with the cost - or if they have the vision to see the end of the line of the status quo. Apple won't allow default apps because they are minting money, and control is in their DNA. Google won't tell carriers to shove it because they are winning market share, and data is in their DNA. The sales numbers of pure google handsets don't bear out going head to head with their current partners and jeopardizing the share inroads.

Absolutely, though it depends on what metric you judge "winning". As a consumer, I don't care how many units running Android get moved or how much money Apple makes.

I care about getting the best phone.

Pushing back on carriers will give me better Android phones.

It's in my best interests.

Hardly anyone on the internet seems to understand this thou, its all sales figures this, profit that, markets this. I'm with you, I buy Nexus phones since I like Android more then iOS on a phone (personal choice where free to make those :P) and I don't like most of the changes OEMs make. But the Nexus 5, although a great device has some weakness which gets blown under the rug due too its price. I think if Apple released something similar too the Nexus 5 there would be hell to pay given the price. I'll gladly pay more for a stock Android device with no compromise, something with better speakers, better camera, better battery life.

Also your point on carriers I think we have seen this improving drastically, we no longer have 4 version of flagship devices, they need to just fight back on nasty Logos (this is the US and not an issue for me personally) and bloatware. This is more to do with each market, in the UK most phones are bloatware free, some are locked and might have a custom bootscreen but it doesn't go much more pass that. I can't recall every seeing a device that had a branded tramp stamp on it.

Nope -- if you want to answer the question "why would they" -- what matters what metric *the company in question* judges winning. What you think, or what I think, matters very little to Apple or Google. They don't make their next moves based on what you (the consumer) think...they make their best moves based on what *they* think, and, at best, what they think you think.

As a fan, its ok to say what you want in a phone. As a customer, its proper to demand better. However, if you are trying to analyze a company and its motivations, and guess its future moves, you have to put aside what *you* want and think based on what *they* want.

I don't think this will work unless Google has control over the pricing. Also, Nexus is a very good brand. Silver just sound bad. If I was Apple, I'd be like, "At least iPhone is gold".

With US carriers dropping subsidies, Google's ahead of Apple already in terms of offering the best buck of the bang with Nexus 5 at its 350$ price. If Google produces an iPhone 5S clone for 600$, I'd stick with Apple instead.

Even I'm tempted with that Nexus price. I have a hard time justifying 700$ for an iPhone every two years, and now with T-Mobile offering better prices without the monthly fee, I'd be extending it to 3 years. Unless of course, Apple came up with a new feature that'll make me want it.

i get what you're saying, but it may be confusing to consumers (chromecast notwithstanding).

"silver", though, seems like an odd choice...when i hear "silver" i think second place. something like "Android Green Label" seems more fitting (just opinion though).

So when we get this "premium" phone from Google are the techies going to complain about the Google tax and walled garden? Because I assume a "premium" phone from Google isn't going to be cheap unless Google heavily subsidizes it (and in this case subsidize is the correct word).

Why would you assume it wouldn't be cheap? Just how much money do you think it costs to make a "premium" phone?

Heres my 2 cents.

1. Google can't control the carries like Apple can. Apple owns all the devices since they MAKE them. Google can't tell HTC and Samsung not to sell to Verizon because they won't play ball on pushing updates to the OS the 2nd their ready. If Google made all the Android phones then they could but.... they don't. Samsung on the other hand could try to push this but since they have such a thick Android skin (touchwiz) it takes 3 to 5 months before they have their new version of Android ready.

2. Silver.. This in effect is trying to mobilize all the carrier stores and maybe box stores to have a section with Google Reps to baby people like you can get at an Apple store. Instead of spending big on stores they kill 2 birds with one stone by just paying for reps and partner deals in the stores. The stores are where people are persuaded everyday to pick this phone over another. Having a group dedicated to helping fix / replace Android phones as well as sell them makes a huge difference to anyone who doesn't have an allegiance to any one phone and might be able to persuade you to buy one of theirs. One of the big issues with nexus phones is there is no stores you can get assistance. You can only call in and many would like the option to get a phone now and not wait a week while the phone is shipped back and forth.

As far as why Google would rather not have all these skins on their OS. Google doesn't care to much about the skins other than it adds months onto the time it takes for these companies to update their software. The Moto X has only a slight modified version of Googles version of Android and it took only a few weeks to upgrade when Google upgraded to 4.4. It took Samsung about 6 or 7 months to get Android 4.4 upgrade. This is unacceptable and why it has to change.

I agree. Most carrier stores are staffed with the latest wave of new hires that cannot help. At least Googlers on site would give you a fighting chance to get issues resolved.

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