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Waking From the Nexus Dream [Opinion]

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Last week on the Droid Life Show I mentioned that I don’t think Nexus devices really matter anymore. With the Nexus 5’s release just around the corner, a lot of readers became very defensive of the Nexus program. Call me self-absorbed or too worried about what people think about me (I’m working on it), but I read through every comment on our site and YouTube regarding my statements. After reading through the comments and listening to our discussion on the show again I’ve decided to try to go into more detail about why I feel this way about the Nexus program. It’s not that I hate Android or Nexus phones, but rather that I believe they could mean so much more than they do today.

Why Nexus Devices Matter

One reason readers insisted that the Nexus program still matters is that Nexus devices are supposed to show manufacturers what Android hardware is capable of. While that was true of the Nexus One, the Nexus program has shifted from a manufacturer providing hardware that they differentiate to the opposite. The Nexus program started with the Nexus One, which featured the first 1 GHz processor and the latest major version of Android, Eclair.1 After the G1 (which was essentially a Nexus) and the Nexus One, the Nexus program shifted from manufacturers repackaging Nexus hardware to Google repackaging flagship devices from OEM partners.2 What this has meant is that Google’s Nexus devices are no longer pushing the envelope in terms of hardware specifications, but instead following closely behind their competitors/partners.

The obvious response to the problem of Nexus devices not excelling in hardware is to argue that devices like the Moto X prove that Android no longer needs top of the line hardware to run well. While it’s true that Android does not need top of the line hardware to run well, it did until very recently. The Nexus 5 appears to finally match current generation hardware (and even exceeds the latest flagships from Samsung and HTC), which is great, but doesn’t make it a spiritual successor to the Nexus One. Google is not showing manufacturers what Android hardware is capable of, but still following its partners’/competitors’ lead for hardware innovation.3

Another reason some readers believe Nexus devices still matter is that Nexus devices offer pure/stock/vanilla Android. While there was a dearth of devices offering vanilla Android following the original Droid,4 Google has changed the game by offering Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android. If you want the latest version of Android faster than the carrier/skinned phones available in stores, GPE phones are a major option. If you’re not on a GSM carrier you could also consider the Moto X, which also runs near stock Android. In short, the Nexus program offers top tier devices with vanilla Android, but it is no longer the only way.

Some readers insisted that Google uses the Nexus program to offer and promote Google’s version of Android.5 There can be no denying that every major manufacturer has manipulated and altered nearly every part of Android on their phones to the point where the look and feel of each Android phone changes in varying degrees of subtlety and brazenness. The problem with this theory is that Google doesn’t need to show manufacturers what they think Android should look and act like; they know OEMs will just change it. Google also doesn’t need to show consumers what stock Android looks like because the vast majority of consumers don’t use stock Android.6

nexus 4

What Nexus Means Now

Since the Nexus One Google has done very little to articulate why the Nexus program exists. We know why the Nexus program was started, but why does it continue today if not to demonstrate Android hardware, compete with features, or to push Google’s version of Android? I think the Nexus program exists for two reasons: so Google can develop Android on new hardware (which benefits both Google and its partners) and for developers to have cheap top of the line hardware. Google lets anyone purchase a Nexus device because it knows there is a small market for Android enthusiasts and developers, but it doesn’t push for Nexus devices to be heavily adopted instead of flagship devices from its partners.7

When I first started getting into Android I treated Google like my sports team. I liked stock Android most and I wanted Google’s version of Android to win in the market. I loved Google’s plan to essentially transform the American cell phone market into a sort of utopia where consumers chose a device separate from their carrier. It seems like Google’s efforts to keep the 700 MHz LTE spectrum open, their purchase of Motorola, and the continued release of Nexus devices are all indications that Google hasn’t completely given up on the original dream, but Google has done nothing since 2010 to show that they’re serious about disrupting the market as originally intended.

When I say that Nexus devices aren’t as relevant or exciting to me, it’s not because I’m an iPhone fanboy or because I’m out of touch with Android enthusiasts. I have a hard time getting excited about Nexus devices because I’m constantly reminded of what they could be. Google could compete directly with Samsung, LG, Sony, and HTC with Nexus devices made by Motorola running software that is customized for those devices. They could work to get Nexus devices on every carrier and ensure that they receive updates when Google releases them. Nexus devices could also come with software only found on Google’s phones to further differentiate and compete with the other OEMs, but instead Google uses Nexus to offer cheap devices to developers and off-contract enthusiasts. Google could own the Android market with stock Android, but instead they’ve let Samsung become the de facto representative of Android smartphones to the world and Samsung and Amazon the representative of Android tablets.8

Perhaps it’s time that I woke up from the Nexus dream. It seems unlikely that Google will ever be able to accomplish their goals, especially in America. The carriers continue to have the control of the relationship between consumers and manufacturers and the FCC seems content to let that oligarchy continue. I still want to see Google’s version of Android succeed over the versions supplied by Samsung, Amazon, HTC, but it does not appear that Google is interested in winning market share with Nexus devices.

The word “nexus” refers to a connection between two things. Google’s vision of the Nexus program was to make a connection between consumers and top of the line devices running software and hardware designed by Google without the carriers. The goal was to disrupt the phone market and bring power to consumers, but the program turned into a way for Google to get new development hardware from a manufacturing partner in exchange for early access to the next version of Android. Google was trying to democratize what Apple did with the iPhone and Google failed. Now, the Nexus program serves as little more than a way for Google to continue developing Android on top of the line hardware and selling the devices at a low cost for developers and enthusiasts. Google has continued to develop Android and add great new features and Google services, but this development isn’t accomplished to advance Google’s version of Android. In fact, vanilla Android’s features and services are almost always replaced or sidelined by the manufacturer’s services and features. I don’t think it’s bad that Google makes top of the line devices available to purchase at low prices for developers or enthusiasts who don’t need the phone to have service or who are on AT&T or T-Mobile,9 but it’s a far cry from what I think Nexus devices should be.

Endnotes
1 I can’t overemphasize how important the Nexus One was for Google and Android. This device set the standard for what Android devices should look and work like in a way that no Nexus device has done since (except for the Nexus 7).

2 HTC released the Desire, a slightly modified version of the Nexus One, a month after the original Nexus’ release. With the Nexus S, Google partnered with Samsung to release a redesigned Galaxy S. The Nexus S was released just six months after the Galaxy S first hit the shelves. The Galaxy Nexus followed suit as a redesigned Galaxy S2 with a larger battery and an inferior camera, again six months after Samsung released their flagship for the year. The Nexus 4 was a redesign of LG’s flagship phone of the year, the Optimus G, sans LTE support. This year, it appears as though Google is once again using a redesigned version of LG’s flagship device, the G2.

3 I’m not saying that it’s necessarily a bad thing that Nexus devices follow behind manufacturers, but just that the Nexus program is no longer about Google showing off the latest hardware. That said, Nexus devices have tended to not only be deviations from an OEM’s flagship, but deviations with major flaws (usually the camera and battery life).

4 There were exceptions like the LG G2x and the Xperia Play. Both devices had minor variations to stock Android. Also, Motorola’s previous generation of Droid devices lost a lot of the skinning that was present before the update to Jelly Bean.

5 I don’t like the phrasing “Google’s version of Android.” As far as I’m concerned stock Android with Google Play services is the canonical version of Android, but forks and skins have muddied up the terminology.

6 It’s possible that the Nexus 7 has introduced many more people to stock Android, but we’ll never know until Google starts to release device sales numbers.

7 Some readers (and journalists) have argued that Google can’t compete directly with its partners. Historically device and software manufacturers that try to compete with their partners (Palm is the classic example) fail to maintain those partnerships. Eventually partners are spurned and turn to another platform instead of unfairly competing with the license holder. While that has been true historically, it also appears that the smartphone market has matured and plateaued to a point where there will be no major platform disruptions. It appears as though Android will continue to be the number one used OS with iOS in second. Blackberry, webOS, and Symbian have fallen into obscurity while Windows Phone continues to insist it is the alternative to iOS and Android. Over the next few years I think we’ll continue to see OEMs fall and be purchased for parts until the next hardware disruption happens that changes the focus from smartphones to something else. For more on why I think Samsung (and Amazon) can’t fork and create a legitimate competitor to Android and iOS, click here.

8 Again, it’s possible that the Nexus 7 is a major player in the Android tablet space, but Samsung, Amazon, and Google all refuse to give actual numbers. Based on the latest usage studies Samsung and Amazon appear to still dominate the tablet market.

9 I know the Nexus 5 appears to be able to work on Sprint’s network, but nothing has been confirmed.

  • HeartStrong07

    I guess I am not understanding this article.. I am not necessarily an Android enthusiast… I simply want the coolest – high specs – device that runs well and is reliable.. I am leaving Verizon because I believe the Nexus 5 takes the honor in 2014

    • HeartStrong07

      2013 :)

    • Shawn John

      Yeah 2013, in 2014 there will be more spec monsters on the block. Me personally, I’m a spec enthusiast, the more RAM and faster processor is where my attention lies. I enjoyed the N4 and everything it stood for, but after seeing the S4 and all the ‘bloatware’, I started to feel different about ‘bloatware’, that bloatware is what gives the phones the extra features and with more ram 3GB, the note 3 out the box already looking to trump the N5 which is slated to have 2GB RAM. …I dunno man, I just have to wait but I will be upgrading my T-Mobile N4 when the N5 drops either for the N5 or a note 3.

      • SplashMTN

        Yes, but the Note 3 is going to need that 3GB of ram to compensate for Touchwiz. There are some really great features that Touchwiz offers, but I’m willing to bet vanilla 4.4 with 2GB of ram is going to run smoother than Touchwiz with 3GB.

        I’m not trying to take anything away from the Note 3 – the phone is undoubtedly a beast.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      If that’s the case then go for it. I would rather have the Moto X, but that’s fine. Like I said in the article, it looks like the Nexus 5 may buck the trend of poor hardware, but from the S to the 4 Nexus phones have had a lot of issues (mostly camera and battery life issues).

      • Nayners

        A lot of issues? I think that’s stretching a bit. Camera hardware, yes, it sucks. Battery, while not being stellar, is hardly a major issue. Along your same logic, I could say that Touchwiz or Sense UI is an ‘issue’. Hence why the only phones I choose to buy are Nexuses. Stock android FTW.

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          I completely agree that TouchWiz and Sense are an issue. :)

          • Nayners

            Thanks for coming on here to comment. You could have easily stayed in the shadows. Especially with everyone bagging on you. You might have written a crappy piece (to me), but you’ve got balls. ;) Respect, Ron.

          • Tim242

            As is the mess that is iOS.

      • InclusiontoInnovation

        Well, I went to the Verizon store .. Moto seemed to small with average specs – maybe I picked up the wrong phone, Galaxy Note 3 to big with a plastically feel and cartoonish color (samsung galaxy 4 shares many of those traits) , Droid Razr Max no SD slot and loads of bloatware … Google Nexus 5 seems like a runaway winner … only competition – HTC One

        • Tim242

          You can make Amoled screens look however you want. Samsung has you covered. See screenshot below. I have mine set to movie, it looks just like an IPS display, but you still get true blacks.

          • InclusiontoInnovation

            Thanks!

    • Chris

      right… because two months is sooooo far off

  • Yaniv

    Ok it’s getting late, wanted to wait and watch the Droid Live Show if there was one but after this article and all of this i think i’ll pass. Have a good night all.

  • Shawn John

    I completely agree with Kellex B, I too was a Nexus fanboy and loved everything it stood for, minimalist theme, no bloatware, pure android feeling with on-time updates to boot, BUT with all these other super-phones being launched, you would think that a phone created for developers would taunt ‘some’ of the bells and whistles (IR,wifi calling) these super-phones have, it’s hard to purchase a new phone and right off the BAT your behind the 8-ball when it comes to features/specs. I’m waiting for the phone to be released to see the final specs and then it will be between the N5 and the Note 3 for me. It’s gonna hurt not having a Nexus but I cannot sell myself short on common features…

  • Jeff

    I tend to agree with Ron where the nexus program is going. I’d also like to point out that if and when Google/Dish Network start the venture into the cell phone provider market which I’m sure they will. Why compete against other OEMS to create a better phone? If it still runs android Google is making money right? Why piss off that partner that will help you with making phones compatible with your network? Just some thoughts….

  • Gr8Ray

    Yet another garbage article from Ron the iFanboy pretending to understand Android enthusiasts.

  • trwb

    “but it doesn’t push for Nexus devices to be heavily adopted instead of flagship devices from its partners”, I see a commercial for the Nexus 7 (2013) about 5 times a day.

    • AbbyZFresh

      The commercial itself sucks though. The Galaxy Gear had a better commercial than the Nexus 7 to be quite honest.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      The Nexus 7 might be an exception, like I said in the endnotes. They don’t try to push Nexus phones, though, to be heavily adopted instead of flagship phones from their partners. To that end, Nexus 7 ads are more about Google. They aren’t about getting a Nexus 7 instead of something else.

      • AbbyZFresh

        The Nexus 5 might change all that. Don’t forget that the 2012 Nexus 7 didn’t get nearly as much outside commercial advertisements as the 2013 Nexus 7 did. Neither did the Nexus 4 at the time.

      • LionStone

        I gave you a reply in DL Show comments and attached a YouTube link for a commercial for the N4, shown during the 2013 Grammy’s.

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          That commercial was far more about Google Now than the Nexus 4.

      • trwb

        Yea I understand what you are saying and I apologize for being so harsh in previous comments. But I still think that Google wants certain people to buy Nexus devices. They want all their demographics covered. The purpose of the nexus may be shifting into something different now and evolving but it is still crucial to Google and more importantly Android.

      • Skittlez

        because nexus really isn’t about pushing anything. they offer. they already make their money elsewhere.

  • Ian Smith

    someone please explain how Ron still has a job with DL….?

    • trwb

      His opinions, while thought out, are somewhat convoluted, biased and with error. This in effect is negative PR for the website.

      • Nayners

        I can’t quite tell if DL is relishing this little conflict regarding Ron. I just get the feeling that they’re stirring the pot a bit.

        • trwb

          Yea it seems it may be to drum up page views.

  • CLICKbaitRONALD

    Droid-Life suggestion: Make a special section for Ron where he can put his obviously very polarizing articles without derailing the true purpose of this site. #givemeonemorereason

  • Yaniv

    Sorry Kellen and Tim but this site has taken a turn for the worse.

    • Chris

      lol

  • John Smith

    Google doesn’t care. they don’t need to make a lot of money selling hardware – especially at the expense of their partners in the ecosystem. the big money/margins/profits for Google is in search and services. and that’s where the future is too. Google wants their hardware partners to be happy and profitable so they keep flooding the market with Android devices. Google does not want to be a hardware competitor. the Nexus line is a delicate balance of offering a reference design phone inexpensively and direct worldwide for developers and enthusiasts – not the unwashed masses. and that’s fine with Google. Google doesn’t care if Nexus doesn’t break any big sales records.

    • LionStone

      Thank you, great comment +100!

  • normmcgarry

    I thought the Nexus devices was mostly a device by Google that developers could reliably use as a standard for developing for Android. Pretty sure it is still that.

  • Brenden Keene

    I too want having a Nexus device to be envied by the masses, but at the same time I kind of like the rarity, exclusivity, and uniqueness that having one means too. I’m proud to support the Nexus program and not just sheep to Apple or Samsung. I like having something different than everyone else… and still something undeniably important.

  • yummy

    Two words: Editing

  • TheRobotCow

    Thank you Ron.
    I completely agree with you. I really want the nexus to be on top every time but it’s not. I’m sure that when the Galaxy Nexus came to Verizon and Sprint it had very low sales and it wasn’t viable for Google to sell these to the masses, especially on CDMA networks. Just look at what mostly everyone is buying, iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxy’s/Notes and the other popular phones. How many Nexus devices are actually being sold? Not a whole lot.
    I love the Nexus line but i actually prefer to keep it small like the way it is now.

  • MikeSaver

    Dear Ron,

    Because you said you read all comments. Don’t listen to all the idiots bashing you for not sharing their opinion. Keep up the great work and your columns are always my favorite to read on the site.

    • Nayners

      Ass kiss 101 right here.

    • TheRobotCow

      Same here.
      There are just too many stupid fanboys who think just because Ron uses an iPhone and expresses himself he’s automatically a fanboy that doesn’t know anything..

      • OnlyNexus

        No, he proves he doesn’t know squat via his articles ;)

    • trwb

      Ron is misinterpreting many things, and some of his conclusions are irrational

      • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

        Which in particular are irrational?

        • LionStone

          That the Nexus program doesn’t make sense to you and that it should. If you don’t get it or support it then let it go bro :-)

          • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

            The Nexus program makes sense to me, I just wish it was about bringing Google’s version of Android to the masses, not just to devs and enthusiasts.

          • OnlyNexus

            Why should Google adopt your vision of Android?

            Should apple adopt my vision for them?

            Google seems to have done pretty well with their vision of Android???? What 80%+ of world mobile market????

            Maybe you need to write some articles about apple changing their vision as their market share dwindles?

            seems like you try very hard to find something to nitpick about Android. Maybe focus on the platform you prefer?

          • LionStone

            Oh dang, couldn’t of said it better myself!

          • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa
          • NexusOnly

            Ron, we’ve covered how ad revenue per platform does not support your argument that Google ought to do what you suggest, and how your argument there is faulty.

            move on. . .. saying the same thing over and over doesn’t make it correct. . .

      • NBM

        irrational is like reading the authors name and jumping down to the comments to call him an iFanboy.

  • Mike Richichi

    The simple question is why can’t Google get away with Android what Apple does with the iPhone? No bloatware, instant vendor-supplied upgrades. Google the hardware manufacturer should be able to model Apple’s relationship at this point considering how important Android is in the marketplace. They could at least use that as a starting point for discussion.

    • JT3

      The problem is that “Google” in this instance only refers to Nexus devices. They really have no say what deals other manufacturers (Samsung, LG, etc.) make with their own handsets after licensing the Android operating system. If Google were to be heavy-handed like this, the carriers would simply get their android handsets from other manufacturers who aren’t. Apple is the ONLY iOS manufacturer, and thus doesn’t have to worry about this. The only way Google could get away with this like Apple does is if they stopped licensing out new versions of Android to other manufacturers, AND had some killer feature that made everyone want the new version over the old versions on existing handsets.

      • OnlyNexus

        what do you think you’re doing, bringing logic into Ron’s argument.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      I think the big reason Google can’t do the same thing Apple did with the iPhone with Nexus devices is that Apple was able to demonstrate insane demand for the phone so they got it on the other carriers on their terms. Google can’t demonstrate that kind of demand.

      • LionStone

        That’s Apple’s goal not Google’s…to say they ‘can’t’ is asinine.

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          To say they can infers they will talk device sales.

        • Chris

          So Google doesnt want to sell their own product?

  • Yaniv

    Used to love coming to this site and watching the Live-Shows… iRon ruined it for me :(

  • NexusOnly

    Article by Ron on DL = click bate and nothing more!

    not to read the comments :)

    And no, Ron, I did not read this BS article as you are very ignorant when it comes to Android.

    • MikeSaver

      yeah because “waking from the nexus dream” is a title really suited for that…

      A click bait title would’ve been “Why no one should buy a Nexus device” etc. etc.

      Everyone and their damn conspiracy theories. I bet you were one of the one saying DL was being paid by Motorola because they liked the Moto X

    • KennyVeltre

      How is Ron ignorant to android? He has used it for years, he has also stated that he knows how to root and rom.

      • Nayners

        My 11 year old can root and rom. So…

        • Chris

          your point?

          • Nayners

            Does it really matter if someone can root or rom? Because you can (like my child), doesn’t mean you’re an expert at all things Android.

      • Yaniv

        Root AND Rom? Oh my…

        • KennyVeltre

          No need to be a jerk about it.

  • thewogltd

    Outside of Ron’s opinions, does anyone else think he just a bad writer? You can repeat yourself in slightly different ways only so many times in one article.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      That is something I’m trying to work on. In college every professor overemphasized restating the general thesis of each paragraph, which drove me crazy. It helps for skimming and emphasizing the point, but it’s not my favorite style. I’m still weaning myself off of it.

      • thewogltd

        Most of the time I agree with your opinions on Android, iOS, and smartphones in general. You’re looking at the smartphone landscape from a center position, a position closer to that of the average consumer, but at the same time one who is more informed on the state of the industry. Its a view point I’d like to see more of in tech commentary.

        I must apologize for my pervious comment as it comes off far too harsh. I completely understand why it is you present your information in that organizational style of writing. Keep your point crystal clear, don’t deviate too much or else risk tangents that may hurt your argument or cloud your opinion. But there is a clarity that comes with brevity and economy in these opinion pieces.

      • thewogltd

        Most of the time I agree with your opinions on Android, iOS, and smartphones in general. You’re looking at the smartphone landscape from a center position, a position closer to that of the average consumer, but at the same time one who is more informed on the state of the industry. Its a view point I’d like to see more of in tech commentary.

        I must apologize for my pervious comment as it comes off far too harsh. I completely understand why it is you present your information in that organizational style of writing. Keep your point crystal clear, don’t deviate too much or else risk tangents that may hurt your argument or cloud your opinion. But there is a clarity that comes with brevity and economy in these opinion pieces.

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          I completely agree. The reason I’m often “forced” to go on is to make sure I cover all of my bases. If I say I don’t like the way something about Android is implemented many assume that means I hate Android. It’s easy to try and predict those objections than deal with it every time in the comments. Without comments I tend to be much more succinct.

    • I_haz_root_beer

      Moto X is for suxors!
      I bet you drive a Corolla.
      Ron rulez!
      Iphone 5C ftw!

  • MikeSaver

    The reason this is even a topic here is because Android enthusiasts basically want just the latest version of Android. I think they couldn’t care less about the hardware as long as its on par with modern devices.

    And the latest version of Android isn’t something that consumers even care about, they dont even know it exists. The common smartphone user mostly doesnt even update their apps.

    Unless Google can someway push the latest version of Android out to all Android devices at the same time and in a timely manner, it’s all a crap shoot.

  • Abgar Musayelyan

    Another good article by Ron. That said can you please just buy any android phone just to put an end to all this stupidity?

  • yusef spencer

    “Google also doesn’t need to show consumers what stock Android looks like because the vast majority of consumers don’t use stock Android.”<—-makes absolutely no sense whatsoever…

    • MikeSaver

      why does your mom with her S4 care what the latest version of stock android looks like? she doesn’t.

    • Chris

      Ask the average joe who has an android device what they think of stock android.

      and yes, its not 2009 anymore. Its 2013. there ARE average joes who use android.

    • NBM

      What doesn’t make sense is that you don’t understand something so obvious

  • JMonkeYJ

    I think Nexus devices are still hugely important and are again pushing a frontier that OEMs didn’t seem willing to push: price. Thanks to the Nexus program, consumers can get top of the line devices at greatly reduced prices. This new strategy started with the N7, N4, and N10, and at least the 2 former devices appear to have been very popular as a result. Amazon is playing this game, as well, now (before this generation the Kindle Fires were not top of the line), and other manufacturers have at least responded by cutting prices massively on their mediocre tablet hardware.

    This price reduction is yet another step in what I believe, and you mention, to be Google’s main goal: freedom from carriers. If Google can push prices for top-end smartphones down to near what the old subsidized prices were, there is no longer an incentive for consumers to get locked in to contracts. If people aren’t locked in to contracts, and can freely hop from carrier to MVNO and back, then suddenly the carrier market is very competitive again. A competitive carrier market, which presumably leads to reduced data costs, is a huge benefit to Google, it services, and its users.

    I think the Nexus program is still doing an admirable job accomplishing this (latest?) Google goal, and it will be interesting to see if Google Nexus phones continue to surge in popularity.

    • MikeSaver

      I think the price reduction comes at some sacrifices though. Like, battery life, camera. etc. Stuff developers dont care about, but consumers do.

    • Mike Hilal

      The N10 was not much cheaper than the then current Galaxy Tab. Maybe $50-100 at the most for the equivalent version. I dont think it’s about affordability as much as it is about a reference device for developers. It’s just icing on the cake that people other than devs buy them for end-user usage.

  • http://www.twitter.com/V3RDICT Jeremiah N

    Ron is completely right. The Nexus program is a very clear example of how Google does not care about Android. Not in the way that we do.

    All of Google’s services are designed around search and ad revenue. Android is just another Google service designed to gather information about us to sell to marketers. Google is fine with the Nexus program as it is and with OEMs like Samsung dominating Android marketshare. Their OEM partners are driving users to Google services. That’s the end game.

    Think of Android the same way you think about Gmail, Drive, Docs, or any other Google service. Google is interested in building Google, not building Android.

    • Mike Hilal

      This guy. He gets it.

      This is the very reason that Apple devices have (relative) parity when it comes to Google Apps. Revenue.

    • Stupid

      duh. .. MS is interested in building MS, apple in building apple. . .

      stupid ass comment!!!!!

      No, Google should drop everything and spend every last sent on a free OS so they can go out of business and there will only be MS and apple, again.e.e.

      stupid ass comment!!!!

    • grumpyfuzz

      I agree with you, but they have to build Android. If they didn’t care about it, they wouldn’t be updating it and it would probably be left on Cupcake. But in the end, they work on Android to build Google.

  • Nayners

    I used to really like Ron. Now, I just find him a bit annoying. He’s found his niche on DL as this critical thinking, iPhone user, that uses every opportunity to throw stones at Android. All the while not even using a Android phone. While I think it’s good to have variety on a new site/blog, I think this is going to cause more stir among the ranks (DL readers), and polarize your readiship. I think this piece was a bad move, not for Ron, but for DL.

    • Yaniv

      Well said sir.

    • MikeSaver

      God forbid someone offer a different opinion. I think your taking things out of proportion.

      • Nayners

        I think you’re out of proportion.

    • George Davis

      How is he throwing stones at Android? If that were the case I would agree with you, but that’s not what I read in the article above. He’s making a very specific argument about the Nexus program and how it has changed, not knocking Android in general (or even knocking the Nexus program for that matter).

      • Nayners

        Do you ever watch the Droid-Life show? Right, didn’t think so.

        • George Davis

          As a matter of fact I do. Show me an example of Ron “throwing stones at Android”.

          • Nayners

            Re-watch the last several episodes then. Especially the last one.

          • George Davis

            You’re the one making the claim, so it’s on you to provide some evidence. And no, the fact that he uses an iPhone doesn’t count as “throwing stones”.

          • Nayners

            Screw you, George. How hard is it to click on the last DL Show?

          • George Davis

            I’ve already watched the show. You sure do get pissy when people challenge your unfounded assumptions. One specific example is all I asked for.

          • Nayners

            Pissy when you ask for something you could easily obtain yourself. I gave you your example.

          • George Davis

            I didn’t interpret any of that exchange with Tim as “throwing stones at Android.” Ron was arguing that the Nexus program isn’t as relevant as it used to be. If anything he had some criticisms of Google and how they’ve handled things, but that’s not the same as criticizing Android.

            I would probably have bought a Nexus 5 if it was available on VZW. The fact that it’s not an option certainly makes the Nexus less relevant to me personally. Plus we have the Moto X and its Droid variants now, which are very close to stock Android. I’m very happy with my Droid Maxx and would not trade it for a Nexus 5 at this point.

          • LionStone

            “Google can’t”…”iphone can and Google failed..”

          • George Davis

            Google != Android.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      I’m not trying to throw stones at Android, I’m just trying to talk about how I think it could be better. iOS has lots of flaws (which I don’t get to talk about because no one asks me). A lot of people assume that because I use an iPhone that means I think iOS is better in every way. I don’t.

  • Daniel Flores

    Totally Agree…Nexus is just not that exciting to me anymore…I’ve had the G1, the OG Droid, GNEX, and now the G2. And, to be honest, I’m totally happy. My experience is totally fine. As far as updates?…sure I’d like to get them quickly, but I’m fine if I don’t. KK would have to have some major changes or new features for me to be wanting the update so badly.

  • MikeSaver

    Well said Ron.

  • MikeCiggy

    It would be incredible for Google to use Moto to make a top of the line next-gen Nexus device. Place it on all carriers, market the hell out of it, and promise updates directly from Google. If there was ever anything Google should take note of from Apple is that 1 device on all carriers with promised updates can capture every type of users enthusiasm.

    • Steve B

      Well, look no further than the Moto X. Moto X is selling like hot cakes. One device on all carriers (we’ll see how the updates go…) and Moto is marketing the hell out of it. I see more Moto X advertisements than Apple now. Google could pour this kind of strategy into the Nexus program and bitch slap the industry.

      • Godzilla

        I disagree with the “hot cakes”. It has sold roughly 6 million units across ALL of the carriers. Personally I am not impressed with that number in the least.

        • Steve B

          Damn, I thought I read somewhere they were selling much better than that. Too bad.

          • Godzilla

            It has really slowed down. If I am being honest I think people are realizing it isnt worth the asking price.

          • Captain Spaulding[2100+ posts]

            I agree with that statement because I was really looking forward to the Moto X, but was disappointed when I found out what the specs were. I completely gave up on the Moto X until I won one on androidpolice.com After owning it for about two weeks now, I must say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Moto X is by far the fastest, smoothest phone I’ve ever used. The battery life on it is great, usually 10-12 hrs. with moderate to heavy use. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s sad to see such a great phone being overlooked like it is just because we’re all spec junkies. It truly is an amazing phone.

          • Ronald Bernard

            I have to agree with you. I was holding out in hopes that the next Nexus by some miracle would find its way to Verizon. But when I found out about the unlimited data glitch I could not resist. I upgraded to the Moto X and have been loving it so far. I only wish Moto Maker was available at the time, other than that…no complaints. Love the touchless control and active display. I just hope this Moto G isn’t a beefed up X…then I may be a little disappointed. It’s not wrong for me to want a little more bang for my buck right?

          • Gr8Ray

            Or, like me, are waiting for more options on non-AT&T carriers, like 32gb and/or MotoMaker customization, in addition to a lower price.

      • MikeSaver

        Everything except the “updates directly from Google”.

        I’m betting the Moto X doesn’t see 4.4 for a looong time. Especially on Verizon, who doesn’t even stock it in their store..

        • MikeCiggy

          exactly what I came back here to say

      • Mike Hilal

        The X is close…just not quite there yet. Google needs to take the update process out of carrier hands like apple did, and run the updates through the play store.

  • mustbepbs

    I actually totally agree with Ron here: Nexus devices aren’t what they used to be.

    Hell, Nexus devices now (tablets anyway) are a huge mess! The N72012 was a great tablet that bought the farm after less than a year, plagued with QC issues like screen lifting, back light bleeding and unexplained lag. Now, the N72013 has a whole slew of QC problems of its own. The Nexus 10 had a severe memory leak and rebooting issue that took months to take care of.

    Google and their recent purchase of Motorola could shake up the Android scene and be a positive force in the bad PR they get for being cheap, fragmented, bug ridden devices. They could rival Apple in device launches, software updates (we all know Apple has no issue getting updates through Verizon) and mindshare. Who knows if they even care enough. Google is split in so many different directions, it’s amazing that they get any work done.

    Google seriously needs to crack down on these QC issues coming from their OEM partners. It’s embarrassing.

    • Chris

      because they don’t have stock right?

      • mustbepbs

        ..What?

  • Mark F

    I don’t know why @Ron but I agree with you this time. :)

  • cheese

    I get this feeling that Kellen and others on this blog are paid assets for Verizon. Just the way they hyped the Moto X. Very suspicious.

  • Steve B

    Can we start a petition to have Ron banned from ever writing an article again?

    • Jeff

      Nah, he’s providing us with entertainment and Droid Life with page views.

      • Godzilla

        That’s my job.

      • Steve B

        True true

      • Yaniv

        Page views :) OK then.

    • Chris

      Who is holding a gun to your head telling you to read them?

      • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

        I am. ︻╦╤─

    • Franklin Ramsey

      Hey, he makes some good points. We don’t have to agree with them, but we should at least respect them as long as they are well reasoned and not presented in a way it looks like he is trolling.

  • Jeff Jackson

    You keep using the term “Android Hardware”… There’s no such thing as “Android Hardware.” There’s hardware, and you can put software on it (such as Android). The Nexus program is about pure Android Software. Not hardware. I’m not sure where you get the idea that the Nexus program is about putting Android on state-of-the-art hardware. If anything, the whole appeal of the Nexus program to me is knowing that, even when my phone’s hardware is years out of date, I will still have software that is up to date.

    • Jeff

      You said that better than I was able to. I’m switching to the Nexus 5 mostly because I want a phone that will get continued support, as I’m tired of checking XDA to see if anyone has put out a new ROM for my phone that stopped getting updates 3 months after release, not because I want the top of the line hardware.

      Heck, with the optimizations they’re building into Android, top of the line hardware isn’t all that important anymore anyway.

      • Steve B

        ^^^THIS^^^

      • NexusOnly

        The S800 will carry the device for. . . well, a lot longer than you’ll probably keep it lol. . .

        quality+lowest possible price, unlocked (freedom from carrier control), optimized “vanilla” Android, and fast direct updates = Nexus.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      The Nexus program was originally about good hardware (among other things like software). The issue of not receiving updates quickly didn’t really exist then. Since the Nexus One it has become less and less about that. Nexus 5 might change that again. We’ll see.

      • NexusOnly

        It was only about hardware in the beginning because Android needed higher specs, thus they had to push for that to make Android run smoother. . . but that was NEVER the core of the nexus program, nor Google’s long term goal of the program. Go back and read about what Google wanted to do with mobile devices and how the carriers reacted and you’ll get some long term insight into Google’s goals. . . and it’s not what you think it is. . .

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          I’m well versed in Google’s history. If you want to make a point, make it. Don’t make vague allusions to historical events without specifics.

          • NexusOnly

            then clearly you don’t know. . . but you should since you are writing such an authoritative opinion peace.

            but I did point it out in another comment.

  • Xunda

    Why is this idiot still writing for Droid-Life? I would think a place like mac rummors or iBGR would suit him better..

    • Steve B

      nobody knows…

    • Yaniv

      Look at how many comments.

  • ChrisI

    Because I love this picture, and any N5 publicity is good publicity.
    http://www.titaniumteddybear.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/choo-choo-motherfucker-train.png

  • Curtis

    Things are not headed in the right direction here!?

  • Kevin

    The only thing being talked about in this article and comments that i see are about the nexus phones, has no one thought to mention the nexus 7 or nexus 10? I am for the time being not going to switch to either AT&T or T-mo, so i will not be able to get a nexus phone. But I don’t have a tablet and will be looking at possibly getting a nexus 10 because the nexus tablets are the only ones that get software updates as soon as they are announced and will continue to get them even after the next 2 iterations have been released. I think that’s why the nexus program is great. The life span of a device isn’t nearly as limited as others are.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      I mentioned the Nexus 7 three times in the endnotes and I used the word “devices” to try and include phones and tablets. I also mentioned that Samsung and Amazon continue to dominate in the tablet space with their own products. The article is generally about Nexus phones, but the tablets apply too.

      • Kevin

        Wow you are right! Completely skipped over that part. Im sorry about that. I completly agree with you as far as phones are concerned with the nexus program. The main point of my comment was just supposed to be that the only part of the nexus program that I think is really relevant to the masses is the tablets. Sorry again for the misinformed comment before.

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          Don’t worry about it! I agree that the tablets are the main devices that matter to consumers. I wish we had some actual sales numbers to prove it.

      • Kevin

        wow, you definitely did mention it in the endnotes. Sorry about that I definitely skimmed over the endnotes way too fast! The main point I was trying to make is that, to me the only part of the nexus program that can be relevant to me is the tablets (which do excite me) since I’m not on one of the 2 major carriers that currently support nexus phones. And since there are only 2 major carriers that support it, it’d be hard for most people to really be excited about it in the first place. Once again sorry for the misinformed part of my comment!

  • LoganLopez

    I thought the whole point of the Nexus program was to get a GREAT phone at a low cost. The idea was to move away from contracts and have the wireless companies beg us to join their network. Not lock us into 2 year contracts because we can’t shell out 6-700 bucks for a phone. To me, Nexus still stands for that and i think just about EVERYONE is missing that point.

    • fauxshizzl

      This

    • JMonkeYJ

      I wrote a much longer comment above that says basically exactly what you say. I should have scrolled down farther :)

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      That was the original idea, but it’s basically dead now unless you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile.

      • LoganLopez

        And hundreds of small carriers. This program is sending a message. While currently not a strong one now but could get bigger. How many readers are leaving Verizon for the nexus 5? I am sure not a lot in the grande scheme but enough that Verizon might take notice. I am one of those people that has been with Verizon forever and hasn’t switched. Do you know why? I believe in the hype that if I switch, my service won’t be as good and will want to switch back, but won’t be able to because I am stuck in another 2 year contract. So really fear keeps me with Verizon. (I am exaggerating a little but you get the point).

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          I doubt it’s enough that Verizon will care. I would love it if it did change Verizon’s tune, but short of something similar to what happened with the iPhone only being available on AT&T I don’t see that happening.

          • LoganLopez

            Do you think there is a chance that in some small way LTE using a sim on verizon might be part of this? I am sure Verizon could have found a way around using a sim. Just throwing ideas out. Giving up on the “dream” of the nexus program is what I think the carriers want.

            Tinfoil hat time: Ron was paid by carriers to write this article :P

          • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

            700 MHz is technically open for all devices to use, but not all Verizon LTE is 700 MHz.

        • NexusOnly

          Verizon told Google, way back before the original first Android device was released, that if they wanted to release an unrestricted unlocked device that could be used on any carrier that they would NOT allow it on their network, AT&T said the same I believe — yes, that’s illegal technically but the government lets them do whatever. Thus Google backed off and did the low key Nexus program in an effort to give people a low cost great Android device.

          Google can only do so much without it backfiring on them. . . but Ron doesn’t get that.

      • NexusOnly

        Actually, Ron, that is the long term goal for Google.

        Just because you stay on a very restricted CDMA network, isn’t Google’s fault or problem. They are giving users a great, unlocked, unrestricted, lowest possible cost, device — your fault for not leaving VZW.

        GSM is the world standard, stop being so enculturated to think that your view is everything. You are on a minority type network (CDMA) that doesn’t play nice.

        @LoganLopez:disqus is absolutely correct. . . if you would bother reading some history about Android, and the Nexus line you would know that. Unfortunately Google can’t break Verizon’s control until LTE is the standard, and all devices will be LTE ONLY — no GSM CDMA junk. . . and low cost unlocked devices will be the status quo, started by Google just like how they brought down the price of tablets with the Nexus 7. . . at least for Android users lol, apple users still getting the shaft.

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          1. Where does Google state that that is their long term goal?

          2. When LTE becomes the standard that does not mean that Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or anyone else has to allow the device on their network. I wish it were, but the reality is Verizon can deny a device access to its network.

          • NexusOnly

            seriously? Yeah, Google is going to publish a long term goal of “breaking the carriers’ control”. . . .
            Sorry, but that was STUPID to ask! Of course they are NOT going to publish such a statement!

            All devices will use the same LTE just on different bands, and by law in the US they actually do have to allow any standards device to access their network — again, something you should know!

            Seriously Ron, you are so uninformed it’s pointless trying to have any type of conversation.

          • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

            700 MHz LTE on is required by law to allow any and all devices, but not all LTE is 700 MHz.

          • NexusOnly

            You should look into why Verizon is looking to get rid of subsidies and their fear of being a “dumb pipe line” when LTE is the standard. They know LTE is going to be the standard and radio chips will be fairly universal, thus all devices will work on any network.

            I mean seriously, do you even think about anything or just try to say something that is justifying your position?

            Like phones now don’t cover more than one frequency. . .sheesh

          • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

            Just because the technology is there does not mean Verizon has to let it on its network. It does with 700 MHz LTE, but not all LTE is 700 MHz. Some Sprint devices will technically work on Verizon’s CDMA, but Verizon will not allow them on their network. It’s not a technological question – it’s a question of the FCC enforcing open standards across the networks.

          • NexusOnly

            OMG, Ron. You think qualcomm is going to make a Verizon only chip?

            You just ignored what I stated and regurgitated the same thing — that’s a “believer” response.

            Verizon’s CEO has already come out and said what I’m saying here. The fact that you’re trying to twist it to support your argument. . . . that’s nuts!

            LTE != CDMA OR GSM

  • Franklin Ramsey

    Nexus – A means of Connection. A Link or tie.

    I think a lot of people are missing out on what the Nexus program really is by thinking about it in terms of what they want it to mean to them. Google used it with the original Nexus to push the hardware envelope to show people what was able to be done with Android. It helped connect hardware and software into a user experience. The Nexus program is still doing that now. A top of the line spec phone is no longer needed to provide a person with a top of the line user experience. The Moto X proved that. Google seems to have realized that and moved from using the Nexus program as an advancement of hardware to an advancement of how users interface and interact with their technology. It’s connecting people with technology in new ways.

    It’s connecting users with technology by giving us a decent price.

    It’s connecting users to new ways to interface with technology (IE: Google Now).

    It’s connecting people with technology in new ways allowing developers a cheap easy way to develop.

    The Nexus program has evolved, just as the Android OS has evolved. It’s no longer what it once was, but it is still relevant.

    • Steve B

      Ron, read this you moron. Franky boy hit the nail on the head.

      • Franklin Ramsey

        Hey, I agree with some of Ron’s points. I just think people are missing what the Nexus program is because they are trying to make it mean what they think it should mean. I also don’t think Ron is a moron and respect his opinion.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      I definitely think the Nexus tablets are still relevant to all consumers, but the phones are limited in relevance at this point. That said, I think you’re right that Google overall is about making connections with technology like Google Now. That’s the beauty of Google.

  • Josh Fischer

    Although there are many good point in the article, the Nexus program has changed (for the better) over the past couple years. The Nexus program is Google’s interpretation of what an Android phone can be. Affordable, open/unlocked, continuously updated in a timely manner, on decent to great hardware. They have chosen to make the best, affordable phone you can get while focusing on timely releases of software.

    I think many people are not feeling the Nexus program because so many great phones have been released recently on the current version of Android. But in 6 months when many of those phones are no longer receiving updates and are being replaced by the next big thing, Nexus phones will continue to see updates, whether incremental security fixes or bigger changes. Google is trying to change this by pulling as much as they can out of the core android system, but I would bet many people will be complaining when HTC and Samsung haven’t updated their phones to Kit Kat by next March.

    That being said, Nexus phones were always for the techie/developer crowd. That was the point, and I don’t see a need to create it for mass adoption. Those of us that like to be at the bleeding edge will continue getting them, and everyone else will be happy with whatever other Android solution they choose. That’s the great thing about Android, it gives everyone a choice to choose what they want in their phone.

    • Jeff Jackson

      Well said. Ron’s opinions seem like they are formed out of bitterness, and lack of understanding of what the future holds.

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      Nexus is definitely about the enthusiast/developer crowd now, but I think Google wanted it to be about everyone originally.

  • chjapa

    All of this talk of PURE Android makes me think of a bunch of techie eugenicists. As long as my device has speed I could care less if the Android is pure or has an Eskimo uncle.

    • Godzilla

      Khan!!!!!

  • Godzilla

    fff

  • Malik

    I would agree that the Nexus program has less of an impact than it did in 2010, but that is a good thing. OEMs have really stepped their game up so there’s less of a motivation for Google to sell “a glass of ice water to the people in hell”. Sure Nexus hardware isn’t top of the line but as you pointed out this was only the case with the Nexus One, not with the other 3 phones so what if the Nexus One is the outlier and the other ones more closely follow Google’s intentions? What if the Nexus One was created only to give Android a shot in the arm to revive it? Eric Schmidt himself stated there was no need for a “Nexus 2″ because the Nexus One did its job.

    Google is in a very similar situation to Microsoft in that any inkling that they are trying to “compete” with the other OEMs is not going to be met kindly. They stand a lot to lose by coming out and making this high spec phone, advertising it and saying this is the best Android device money could buy. Could they do that? Of course. Would it be healthy for Android? Not necessarily.

    I think we all have an idea of what direction Google should take the Nexus phones in but simply because they aren’t following our trajectory doesn’t mean they’ve lost sight of their own. Google’s fine offering a reasonably spec’d phone at a cheap price and slowly persuading people to move to the unlocked experience then brute forcing their way through with some high end phone. The war won’t be won in a specs race because we know there are some poor devices out there with great specs. Instead, the user experiences will be the seller and at the price of the Nexus you are getting the cleanest experience at the best price. That’s the Nexus program’s new focus and it’s on Google to put that across.

  • Chris

    Heres a question. If a nexus is that important. would you rather have google pull an Apple move and only have nexus devices and make every app look and fell the same?

    Android is about choice right?

  • Alain Lafond

    It’s true that been a flagship device is harder and harder.
    I got tired of waiting for Nexus 5 and I bought a Galaxy Note 3 as a refrsh to my Nexus 4.
    Oh my!
    Can you beleive that I came back to my Nexus 4 and gave the Note to my wife that luckilly needed a refresh for her Galaxy Nexus…
    I don’t if I’ll buy a Nexus 5 as, from the leaks I red, seem to be a little step up.
    But for sure, Google is not very good as marketing something. At a moment the wait gotta end.
    Hoping that Nexus 5 won’t be like all others devices before. And the supply will be suffiscient. If not, I won’t buy an I-Phone… But I’ll go back to wired phone…

  • Chris

    I like android, but that doesn’t mean I get an erection over the nexus program like many of you seem to get….

  • geedee82

    Call me self-absorbed or too worried about what people think about me

    Your iPhone already does that for you.

  • George Davis

    I keep seeing the argument that Ron’s use of an iPhone as a daily driver makes his opinion irrelevant. Haven’t you people heard of the Ad hominem fallacy? Because that’s all this is. There’s no logical connection between his using an iPhone and the relative value of his opinions. Now if he’d never owned an Android device, that would be a different matter. But that’s not the case. Ron is clearly an informed tech enthusiast who happens to use an iPhone currently. I for one appreciate his perspective, whether or not I agree with him.

    • Buur

      Except this isn’t an ad hominem fallacy. No one is attacking Ron’s character or using irrelevant information to dismiss his opinion. He uses and prefers a competing device so his opinion on a device he doesn’t like and won’t use doesn’t really mean much.

      • George Davis

        How is the fact that he currently uses an iPhone relevant to his opinion of smartphones in general? He’s owned Android phones before, and he’s clearly well informed about them. That’s like saying I can’t have a valid opinion about wine if I happen to prefer drinking beer.

        • Buur

          He isn’t giving an opinion on smartphones in general. He is giving an opinion about a particular device and more so about a particular program. He is entitled to his opinion but to have a piece about it on an Android fan site is a bit ridiculous.

          • Chris

            its just a way to stir up discussion and perhaps give reason to ban people who get a little too crazy and have an aneurysm over a silly opinion.

          • George Davis

            The Nexus program is a subset of Android, which is a subset of “smartphones in general”. If the community here has grown so insular that different perspectives and opinions are unwelcome, that reflects poorly on the community rather than on Ron IMO. Just because this is an Android fan site doesn’t mean the posters all have to be fanboys.

  • Chris

    its ok for people to defend the nexus program and bash other devices but its not ok for someone bash the nexus program?

    people are just but hurt and can’t handle other people having an opinion.

  • blix247

    Nexus isn’t just about hardware innovation. Only the first 2 Nexus devices were really about pushing the hardware. Subsequent Nexus devices have been to show manufacturers that there is more to it than just hardware.

    Nexus devices need to exist for Google to guide the OEM’s. Sony and LG have heavily borrowed from Nexus stylings, and their devices are much nicer for it.

    The main reason for Nexus to exist is for Google to control the Android release process. Google can have an event and say here is Android 4.4, running on these devices. Instead of announcing it when no hardware runs it, or allowing OEMs/Carriers to announce it when its tested and ready to go on all devices.