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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.

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.

  • delusionalah

    Lol, speaking of that, ever thought of people in Asia like me? I got the top end phone top end hardware with half the price of a flagship, or iPhone, and GPE device is so easy to get in Asia as u think. Lol…

    • Chris

      america is the only country that matters with oiy america, android would not exist

      • GJV

        You are so wrong it hurts. Asia accounts for over 1/3 of the world’s population and some of the world’s fastest growing markets. There are over four times as many people in China as in the USA. Think about that!! Only naive Americans think America is the only country that matters. I am an American who loves my country, but I don’t live with blinders on either.

    • Yep. Asia is a very different market, as is Europe, Africa, and South America. That’s why I focused my attention on America, where Nexus phones have had far less proliferation.

      • NexusOnly

        So, you started with a limited enculturated view and then went from there — an American stuck on Verizon???? And now you wonder why you’re being torched and your conclusion is so invalid it’s painful?

        oh my!

  • Maikai_Guy

    Wow… this “tech writer” missed the point entirely. The Nexus program was never intended to be in competition with the rest of the Android makers. It was to live in harmony with it.

    He says it in his own article, but is so fixated on his pompous opinion that he misses the shear power of Google’s intentions. “…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.”

    By doing this, Google has taken over nearly 80% of the worldwide market share for smart phones!

    The writer goes on to say “It seems unlikely that Google will ever be able to accomplish their goals, especially in America.” Are you friggin’ kidding me?! 80% market share… WORLDWIDE! Uh… yeah… I think it’s safe to say they accomplished their goals.

    Nexus is not a brand. It’s a means to an end. It’s a tool. It always was. It always will be. If you want to be a tech writer, maybe you need to understand a company’s approach to market… and get a handle on how exceptionally well that approach has worked for them… before you start writing any more rubbish.

    • jahsoul

      Actually, Android has the market share due to the sheer amount of phones that run Android; it has nothing to do with the Nexus.

      • Maikai_Guy

        Seriously? So… their market share has absolutely nothing to do with any internal and external Android development work done on Nexus platforms? The success of Android would “just happen” without that? Please explain to us all how exactly that could happen. 😉

        Google uses Nexus platforms for their development and debugging of Android. They also provide/sell these platforms to the Android community / external developers. It’s one of the reasons we see Nexus phones with less than stellar peripherals. They’re not looking for cutting edge. They just want “good enough” to develop and debug the generic drivers. That’s probably why we hear the Nexus 5 won’t sport the 13Mpixel camera, as one example.

        Google also doesn’t want to compete with their customers. If they did that, Android would lose value for those companies and they would consider migrating to another OS. Only if they feel they have an even playing field against their competitors will this love-fest for Android continue.

        Android’s market share is a result of the Android developer community’s (both internal and external) work producing a quality OS. As a strategy, that OS is made available at a relatively low cost to competing phone companies. Those phone companies add differentiation in the form of peripherals and OS modifications to compete with each other.

        All this success springs out of the Nexus platform. The only reason for an “everyday Joe” to get a Nexus phone is for quick OS updates, because… obviously… the OS is being developed on these platforms and pushed out to the external developer community, so releases would be available on these platforms more often and more quickly.

        If you’re an “Everyday Joe” and won’t be doing any development work or using any developer ROMs, you probably don’t need a Nexus. You’d probably be happier with a higher performing LG equivalent… right now… today… no waiting! It think that’s the revelation the author came to for himself. He’s neither a developer nor ROM user and he’s started to wonder “Why Nexus?” But rather than understand what Nexus REALLY is, he assumes it’s just another phone for the public and questions it’s total existence.

        Do you understand now?

        • jahsoul

          No…it doesn’t.

          The #1 selling Android line in the world is the Galaxy S lineup running Touchwiz.

          Like I stated earlier, Android’s market share is huge because of the sheer number of devices that can run Android. It has nothing to do with anything Nexus.

          Android went through it’s first 6 iterations (1.0, 1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, and 2.0.1 without a Nexus. Actually, off the top of my head, I can think of 3 devices that wasn’t a Nexus that received Android versions first. (G1/Dream, Moto Droid, and Moto Xoom).

          But I look at this situation objectively. If all of the success “springs” out of the Nexus platform, then what about the failures? Every Android device is not made equal, hardware and software. There are still bad Android phones out there. Who fault is that? If you place blame on the manufacturer for maybe their skin or hardware choices, then by the same measure, the success of a lineup (Galaxy S series is the top selling lineup since it has been out and ) should also go to the manufacturer and their developers. It’s one thing to get the base code but most companies choose their own skin which requires their own internal developers.

          And truthfully, the “Everyday Joe” is the reason Android is leading in market shares around the world.

          • Maikai_Guy

            [Sigh] Clearly not a developer.

            Think about what you’re saying. You’re saying Android is so popular because Android is used so much. That’s the same as saying it’s popular because it’s popular. :-/

            First, touchwiz is a skin for Android… an OS modification done by the phone vendor. It’s a differentiator… like I mentioned.

            Look, there needs to be a platform upon which to do development. Yeah, in the beginning there was no Nexus available, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a platform to work on. It may not have been called Nexus, but it was certainly the ancestor of what we see today. Over time, the platform itself became polished and was released into the wild so external developers could work in a somewhat pure environment. That platform was called Nexus.

            You keep saying the reason Android is so popular is because of all those vendors pumping out phones. Well… why did/do those vendors use Android in the first place? If Google did not make it appealing, they wouldn’t use the OS.

            Being popular… being used in lot of phones is a RESULT, not a CAUSE. Having a quality OS because they have a good development platform (Nexus) and a vibrant developer community is the reason you have that RESULT… that Android is being used in a ton of phones. That didn’t happen by magic. It happened because a plan was executed successfully. A plan which included the Nexus platform as a development vehicle for the OS. And Google’s Android OS is insanely successful because of that plan execution.

          • jahsoul

            So you think Android’s market share has to do with successful development used by the Nexus program? *sigh*

            So I guess you missed when Nokia had the market huh?

            And the reason Android is on so many phones is because it is cheaper to use Android as a smartphone OS than paying for licensing from Windows or building one from the ground up. It’s about economics my friend and not developing. Do I negate about how capable the software is? No but to say that development is the reason it had market share is off. Trust me, if Nokia didn’t let Symbian get stale during the smartphone revolution, they would still have a world wide presence. (and as a side note, that was gained through emerging markets and cheap phones, just like Android).

    • I’m well aware of Android’s total market share, but that has nothing to do with the proliferation of Google’s version of Android or Nexus devices.

      • NexusOnly

        You are backwards. . . Nexus devices are there to spurn market dominance, not sell devices, and they do that via several factors.


      • Maikai_Guy

        You totally miss the point of Nexus. From your article, it’s clear you believe it to be a brand to compete with Samsung, LG, etc… It’s not. It’s a development platform that consistently has not had the latest hardware.

        If it were a “brand” meant to compete with flagship phones from the likes of Samsung and LG, you would be correct in questioning the relevance of the Nexus “brand.” But since it is not a brand, but a development platform to advance the Android OS, your article is an epic fail and exposes your ignorance of Google, the Android OS and the overall market.

        If Nexus was meant to be a brand to compete with the likes of Samsung and LG, why on Earth do you think those same makers would want to make the Nexus phones at all?

        • 1. I don’t believe it is a brand to compete with OEMs. I believe it should be. There is a huge difference.

          2. I specifically stated that I believe the Nexus program is for developers and enthusiasts.

          3. They would make Nexus phones if they wanted early access to the next version of Android. That has always been the deal. If not, Google always has Motorola to fall back on.

          • Maikai_Guy

            1) If you believe Nexus should be a competitive brand, you miss the point of Nexus and you don’t understand Google’s approach to the cell phone market.
            2) Than why do you question it’s relevance? You can’t possibly be suggesting there is no need for a development platform.
            3) But they won’t care about early access to an OS if the OS owner was about to kick their arse with it. It would be like building a gun for someone wanting to shoot you.

          • 1. I do understand Google’s approach, I just disagree with it.
            2. I question its relevance for the masses, not for developers.
            3. What other choice do they have? They have nowhere else to go.

          • Maikai_Guy

            1) Then you disagree with amazing success.
            2) It’s not meant for the masses, so no need to question. 😉
            3) They have nowhere else to go only as long as Google plays nice. The day Google adopts your suggested approach is the day Ubuntu Touch (or any other now-laughable mobile OS endeavor) becomes a viable alternative, because they will have big friggin’ money behind them.
            These new mobile operating systems aren’t really laughable at all. In fact, they are very viable… if there were a place for them. Google’s friendliness and non-competitive nature with its licensees poisons the environment for these new upstarts who could otherwise become serious competitors.
            I suppose you think ARM should start making microcontrollers and microprocessors too? :-/

  • Wudien

    It took you way to long to make a compelling argument (it never happened) the majority of people do not run stock by choice, they are forced to run a bogged down version by oems. Period. The Nexus program is for stock android. Period. It is to combat locked bootloaders and poor skins of an amazing os.

    • I too prefer stock Android to the skinned, locked down versions, but Google can’t make that available to the majority of the people in America without getting Nexus devices on all four major carriers without restriction.

      • NexusOnly

        So, you are butthurt that Verizon is a terrible carrier and Google is tired of dealing with them?

        That’s the jist of it?

        then wait for LTE to be the standard. . . and every phone will work on every network.

      • Skittlez

        thats not google’s fault, thats Verizon’s fault

  • Richard Tubbs

    The Nexus program is producing phones that give you the latest specs for under $350 outright. My nexus 4 led the way with built in wireless charging, google wallet, and was one of the first premium phones to be made unlocked, allowing you to choose your GSM carrier. I think the program now is about carrier freedom and phone affordability without sacrificing quality. It’s not perfect, but seeing how phone companies have been trapping people for years into paying over $500 for a phone, either outright or through subsidy, I think what the program is doing to try to make quality phones affordable should be noted

    • Chris

      latest specs? really kid? is that why the nexus 4 lacked LTE?

      • Skittlez

        i think people are running it on T-mobiles LTE. it has LTE in it. i used mine on HSPA+ and it was plenty fast.

  • Simos Katsiaris

    so you don’t want a fast affordable phone that is certify by google that android can perform 100% as intended on it, both google edition had deadlocks and random lag, a real nexus never has those issues and is for developing on the latest version before the oems roll there updates in order to ensure that the apps will work with no major issues, when you stop playing with your ipad you can google what a developer device like nexus is

    • I didn’t say I don’t want a fast, affordable phone that is by Google; in fact I said that I do want that, but on all carriers.

      • Simos Katsiaris

        you do know that thanks to the usa system you guys will never have that? in my country all carriers are forced to allow the user to use all networks and are forbidden to lock the device since you bought it, you own it, you can launch it to space if you feel like it, in usa the phone is owned by the carrier unless you unlock it, you have to pay for tethering and worst of all you rent the phone you didn’t buy it and they will force you to upgrade in 2 years

        • 1. Yes, I’m aware that the carriers dominate the system currently. I wish the FCC would break up their power or that companies like Google would subvert it.

          2. You don’t rent the phone, you pay a subsidy. I have a drawer full of phones that I own. Also, they definitely do not force you to upgrade (on Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T you continue to pay a subsidy for the phone, though).

          • Simos Katsiaris

            since you bought the phone then why it’s illegal to unlock the bootloader in the states?

          • It’s illegal to unlock a phone from a carrier in the US without their permission. That has nothing to do with whether or not you own the phone though. Owning something does not give you permission to use it any way you like.

          • Simos Katsiaris

            if you buy it, you own it, if it’s illegal to unlock without permission you practically doesn’t own the device

  • michael bourgoin

    You guys need to stop letting Ron write for you. While, well written, there are so many holes in his argument that it makes swiss cheese look silly. I’m surprised i actually got through this article. Next Ron article is an auto skip from me. No more clicks for his articles

    • Chris

      Like one person will hurt anything

      • michael bourgoin

        it wont for sure, i’m just saying. I know others who feel the same way. Despite that, it will still be a very small minority. It is what it is.

  • John Waldorf

    First, you have to remember that Google is a software company, not a hardware company. Google makes their money through the gathering and presentation of information. Sure, they acquired Motorola, but many believe that acquisition was more about patents than hardware. Google’s real interest is ensuring their software reaches as many hands as possible, so it can do it’s job of gathering information from users.

    This, however, is not a reason to continue the Nexus program, that reason you hint at in your article. Google understands that the developer community is a huge untapped resource for innovation. Whereas companies have a way of stifling innovation in the interest of the bottom line, Google know that individual programmers will band together for little to no compensation to create something better. That is the whole purpose of open source and thus the whole purpose of the Nexus program.

    Sure these people could always do this using some company’s high end GPE phone, but these phones are priced in the $600 range; whereas a Nexus phone can be acquired at a third the cost; making it an affordable way for homegrown developers to do what they love.

    In addition, I would imagine that a vast array of Android development within Google happens on Nexus devices. Therefore, it is in the best interest of Google to have homegrown developers utlizing the same platform.

    Homegrown developers benefit Google in two ways.

    First, it gives Google a view of talented programmers without the risk of actually hiring them. It’s like having a farm team. Google sees who the talented programmers are and can court them to join the team. It is better than taking the risk of hiring someone, going through the cost of training them only to find out that they aren’t very good. Plus, high school graduates are cheaper than programmers with Master’s degrees.

    Second, it give Google a way to innovate without the risk. Basically, someone else spends the money doing the R&D for a program and Google acquires the stuff that is actually good. Think about it, how many companies waste money on the development of things that don’t work? With homegrown developers, Google has a chance to only pay for the stuff that does work. It’s brilliant.

    As such, keeping the homegrown developer community alive and well is what is in Google’s best interest; hence, Nexus is in Google’s best interest.

    • jahsoul

      The Android community had awesome developers a good bit before the Nexus program, nor did the Nexus program cause an influx of developers, so we can’t say that this is the purpose of the Nexus program.

      Ron stated the original purpose of the Nexus line. It was to show the power of Android on the best hardware. Look at the specs of the Nexus One compared to all other devices at that time….1GHZ processor (That was a HUGE deal), 512MB RAM (also huge), AMOLED screen, with the newest version of Android…man..lol.

      But I really doubt that the Nexus keeps the developer community going; I think that distinction goes to the awesome spec’d phones with bloated skins.lol.

      But at the end of the day, I won’t pretend to have a clear understanding of what the Nexus program is about, because it went from one thing to another. *shrugs*

      • John Waldorf

        jahsoul, Thanks for keeping me honest here. I overlooked Ron’s stated purpose of the Nexus platform.

        Like you there are a lot of things I don’t know about the purpose of the Nexus program and my opinion is generally speculation.

        As for whether there was an influx of developers into the community because of Nexus, I can’t say either; as Ron points out the G1 was essentially the first ‘Nexus’ device and essentially where the development community started (outside of the Open Handset Alliance).

        I do believe that Google has an interest in providing a well spec’d device running the latest OS at a reasonable price to the homegrown development community for the reasons I stated though.

  • Weber

    I have a Moto X. “Stock” enough for me, especially since I’m on Verizon. Coming from the GNex, the Nexus program is ruined for me.

    • Skittlez

      ruined? lol you had it on verizon.

      • Weber

        That’s what I’m talking about. They somewhat ruined it for me. My GNex is still sitting on 4.2.2 after 4.3 was released on July 24. Rooted or not, I still should’ve had 4.3 by now. So, maybe saying the experience was ruined for me might not be the best wording, but Nexus definitely doesn’t mean much to me. And I can’t switch carriers anytime soon since reception in my area compared to other carriers is far better on Verizon, and even then, it isn’t that great.

  • marco

    I bought my nexus 4 because its a super phone and was not expensive. All this philosophical discussion about the nexus program its interesting but its too much talking just for a phone.

  • Chris

    If I can’t get the N5 on Verizon, I don’t know what I will do. I can’t leave Big Red due to family plan restrictions. Is it really not supposed to come to Verizon?

  • Chris

    The Nexus 5 isn’t coming to Verizon?!?!?! I will be so depressed 🙁

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  • JD_26

    I have a single rebuttal to all the points … Price! Price! Price!.. .. maybe the states is not a very price sensitive market but I believe several other markets out there are … the nexus 4 is very popular in india .. and would do insanely better if available earlier and in abundance !

    • The price is huge, but it doesn’t matter in America if you’re stuck on a carrier that doesn’t support the phone. Google definitely has a larger opportunity in markets outside the US (and Canada).

      • JD_26

        what about ppl on tmobile or any other bring our own phone carriers ?!

        • For them it’s a great option, but the vast majority of people are on AT&T and Verizon. AT&T may be an option if you can go off contract.

  • Keith0606

    The nexus phones are the only way to get completely stock android with guaranteed updates in a reasonable amount of time on decent hardware for an affordable price without having to root/rom. I know that sentence is wordy but it’s this combination of factors is what makes the nexus line relevant and important in my opinion. Additionally I’d argue that the nexus 5 will be “highend” so that makes this next nexus phone even more relevant important.

    That said, does Google need to market more, absolutely bc a lot of average users are going to miss out as they don’t know what a nexus is.

    Also people need to stop being rude in the posts it’s getting pretty ridiculous, everyone is entitled to an opinion. You can disagree without being rude.

    • A.Y. Siu

      The only way? What about Google Play Edition?

      • Keith0606

        Yes the only way. Those Google play edition phones are not affordable they cost almost twice as much.

  • Dimitar Gospodinov

    noun: nexus; plural noun: nexus; plural noun: nexuses

    a connection or series of connections linking two or more things.
    “the nexus between industry and political power”
    a connected group or series.
    “a nexus of ideas”
    the central and most important point or place.
    “the nexus of all this activity was the disco”

    I don’t know whitch one of these the Google Nexus isn’t

  • Droid 1967

    I have to say I understand why Droid life has Ron he writes very well.
    While that doesn’t diminish the fact that the nexus is a brand where you get the new os first and continue that way except for friggin verizon of course.
    And this is the full os. not as ios who claims to keep the os on all phones at the same time. Its called the same but it is not the same the os you get on iphone 4 is not the same ios7 on the iphone 5.

    The nexus is a line of phones it changes who makes it but its really another line.
    some like touchwiz (samsung phones) some like htc some like lg.
    when it comes to Nexus most dont care so much who makes it as we all know that google was involved to demonstrate their latest android creation and it will run the android version the best when its released. and they aren’t stuck with fragmentation as they can get the latest updates now not 4 months later.

    But i do agree with the hardware chooses they seem to take a flagship and dumb it down intentionally, for cost? To insure they dont piss off the other partners?
    Dont know But to take the G2 and downgrade the Camera,battery,screen and what else makes little sense. at leas with the Nexus 5 they will have the latest top tier processor.

    oh and i saw somewhere here where ron said iphone users use the browser or the internet more than android users, Im sorry i dont buy this for 1 second.
    Well again well written and you see why i dont write for this site.

    Would we live without a nexus device of course , But there is a market for timely OS upgradable devices and that is the nexus.

    and for anyone that has been around you find that the custom roms and features made by others on these devices have found their way into android or to other vendors skins. If you’ve been on custom roms drop down to a cell store and take alook at the G2 you will see many features that were previously only available on custom roms.
    The korean version (im sure will come to us version at some point) actually has built in ability to remove the softkeys to increase your screen size.
    Many bugs in android over the years have been fixed and submitted to google by these custom rom developers.

    These are the main reason why having a developer phone is indeed important to the android eco system.

    • Tahsin Ahmed

      Nexus 4 had THE top tier processor and 2 gb ram when it launched nearly a year ago. If you are talking about the camera, well , i have seen great photos taken with it. It’s the poor calibration of the display that really annoys me

      • Droid 1967

        im not much of a camera expert i thought the original droid took good pictures 🙂 Not really up on the nexus 4 But maybe they didnt downgrade stuff on it as much as they have from teh G2. But that doesnt state that its not gonna be a great device I even think people will be surprised at teh battery life they will get from the 2300mAh. I cant kill this battery on the G2 I expect the nexus 5 to last a whole day for most without difficulty.

      • Chris

        no LTE…

    • Skittlez

      screen size change isn’t a downgrade. thats preference, and the reason they change the camera sensor and battery is because if they keep it up, then the cost would still be $600. why would LG give the device to Nexus exactly like the G2. they want their flagship top spec’d device to have the LG skin, so they can sell more under their name, and not Google Nexus. besides, A. no one has seen pictures taken with the Nexus 5, and B. just because the battery is smaller than the G2, doesn’t mean it won’t last. the snapdragon 800 runs at a much lower voltage than the 600, and the HTC One with a 2300mah battery lasts a lot of people through the day. i’m sure this phone will be great at everything and cost way less.

      • Droid 1967

        I dont disagree with you. as i stated on all this. I was trying to give 1 props to Rons story. that was all.
        i have the G2 so as i stated the 2300 should be plenty for most everyone i believe. But it wont supply the same at the 3000 that just a fact. i am hearing the screen is not only smaller but also a lower quality screen that is why that comment. well see rumors are rumors but that is what ive read.
        camera wise as ive said i thought the original droid took good pictures so im sure it will be fine.
        I believe the nexus 5 will be a hell of a phone.

        • Skittlez

          ok i was just confused a bit. yea there’s a few things they brought down, but i think all those things they changed are worth far less than $250, and thats how much they brought it down. i like the bang for your buck features. To me, Nexus is the best smartphones on the market when they release. not because of the specs, but because of what you get for your money

          • Droid 1967


  • Jamin

    I’m glad we don’t have these strong carrier binding in Germany. Grab the phone you desire and choose any contract.
    Still don’t know why Americans tolerate the current situation.

    • Chris

      because we are americans, We don;’t have stupid, silly laws. just stupid people who make them

    • I wish we could do the same. Too many people are unaware that there’s a better way than the insane contracts and subsidies we have here.

      • NexusOnly

        Subsidies will die with LTE, Verizon and AT&T have admitted as much.

        All devices will work on any network and the Nexus will be there driving down prices and spurning adoption of the platform just like the N7 did for tables.

        You are just lacking vision. Good thing Google has some!

  • Tototototony

    I think all the analyses are meaningless here, because what
    we’re dealing with here is Google. I like this company not because of its size,
    innovation, or anything normal, but because it is unique. I feel like it has a
    very liberal culture and there is really a high level of disorder when you
    start trying to see what Google’s strategy is — like Parthenocissus tricuspidata. Yes I have to use this analogy to save time explaining. Google as a whole is like Parthenocissus tricuspidata, and the wall being the internet here. The only
    strategy that never changed for Google, I would say, is their effort in trying
    to reach every inch of the internet — by growing like Parthenocissus tricuspidata. The only reason they are doing is also quite simple – they want to become the internet; they want everyone that uses internet to be reached by this Parthenocissus tricuspidata, on which there are those famous “ads”, where 90% of Google’s income comes from. If you think of it, a lot of things Google had done did not have a consistent philosophy or strategy in common, because Google simply does whatever they want to do that best benefits the group – in this case the majority of its revenue. Why all these analyses are
    meaningless in my opinion? Because the author, and obviously us Android fans,
    are overemphasizing the significance of Android than Google target it. I mean,
    in my philosophy, Google can abandon Android tomorrow like they exited the
    China market if they feel like it – unlikely, I know, but what I really meant
    here is that Android does not mean that much to Google, the company as a whole
    (yes, even though the development department may treat the Android like its
    own child), because it really just is a tiny part of the big picture, of this
    huge internet propaganda Google is trying to push out here – they push
    internet to the world and want to be influential on the internet, so they can
    better provide ad services for the real clients, i.e. anyone that pays for
    their ads service. Much like a any other services, such as Google Fiber,
    Gmail, Google Glasses, and tons more, Nexus is just one of them in the big picture.
    Google is really just trying to get more ppl to access the internet anywhere
    anytime, as well as become ubiquitous on the Internet, so the potential of the
    internet can be further exploited and they keep making money and growing. This
    is what I am fascinated by this company the most, its non-traditional and
    maybe seemingly chaotic business model. Disorder is the order itself maybe?

    Anyway, a lot of ppl must have heard about this crap up
    there and already thought about it long ago. The reason I’m putting it up here
    and repeating over and over again is because we want us to see the big picture
    a little better, so we can stop wasting time trying to analyze what a minimal
    part of Google really means. You shouldn’t think in a traditional way when it
    comes to something that has to do with Google. The whole business isn’t
    something traditional. It’s like no other business now that I think about it,
    why use a traditional way to analyze. In an extreme case, Google can be
    impossible to predict. Quitting China market was probably as innovative as
    other genius innovative services Google offer, even though it seemed to be not
    as beneficial to Google commercially. The only thing we should expect from
    Google is disorder. If you keep that in mind, and only focus on the big
    picture of what the company is trying to achieve as a whole, writing this “waking
    from nexus dream” article becomes a waste of time, just like writing my super
    long comment with a bad logic here. But again, as human beings, we like doing
    what we chose to do, i.e. wasting time :p

  • M Connaughton

    Question on “pure android” tag, since most Android users don’t even know what that is; Is the “bloatware” really THAT bad in all circumstances anyway!?

    HTC sense (on DesireZ) was one I didn’t have a problem with (having used Samsung and Motoblur) and you could argue enhanced that particular Android iteration. Google should allow skins/bloatware that only adhere to particular standards or revoke the OS license.

    Think about it: How you going to start your own OS to compete with Android as an OEM from scratch? Android is that big now Google can afford to throw its weight around, and in terms of bringing top end hardware – being innovative – is something you’d like to think it would always want to make a point of doing.

    Even so, having hardware specs that are led by repackaging the latest (sic: most recent, which isn’t the same) flagship model of the OEM isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 90%+ of most consumers won’t be THAT clued up to notice the performance of a slightly faster processor, for example – so why bother compromising battery life (something they WILL notice)?! There is some mileage, not to mention a lot of sense, in the Nexus model today.

    Also – when the Nexus program was conceived, the world was a different place. It’s had to adapt and thrive in ever challenging economies where disposable income is diminishing. The author fails completely to point this out (had he even considered it?).

    This said, Google probably do need to make a decision about what its aims are for each flagship device launch.

    Convention says any new flagship product should at least – AT LEAST – match the competition in terms of technical specification and improve on design, and perhaps go a few steps further in some areas (i.e. camera).

    IMO, expandable memory and vastly upgrading the camera on nexus devices might just be their ticket to gaining more market share.

  • vcarvega

    Granted, I did not begin to pay attention to Nexus phones until the Nexus 4… but I do believe they are still relevant. The thing which caught my attention with that phone was the fact that a premium experience could be had at a bargain cost… This probably doesn’t matter for most consumers, as most still buy their phones on contract anyway. But for those that don’t, I don’t think there is any better value out there than Nexus phones.

    Also, the Nexus 10 was my first stock Android experience… I don’t see myself going back to a skinned experience any time soon. Yes, a lot of GPE phones have become available… but then you’re paying a premium for all the features OEM’s baked into their phones and/or cameras that are not able to be used in the stock experience.

    I do wish Google had a more aggressive marketing campaign for Nexus devices though… particularly the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Even with a few flaws, stock Android is still the best mobile OS out there in my opinion… I wish Google did a better job of pushing it.

    • Chris

      maybe they can get a bunch of nerds together and they can count the stripes in the wllpaper and the number of pimples they have in their mothers basement,.

  • M3D1T8R

    Sorry Ron but I could only get as far as this sentence:

    “Google also doesn’t need to show consumers what stock Android looks like
    because the vast majority of consumers don’t use stock Android.”

    This sentence is so idiotic, there is no need to read any further. At the risk of beating the dead horse, the logic here is: Why bother ever releasing a new product to the public, the public isn’t using that new product. Never mind that if Google doesn’t release this, the public won’t have the chance to see Android coupled with hardware exactly the way Google wants it to be. Ever. Nobody will have the chance to use this product, because most people might choose to not buy it. The logic is so flawed. It’s like Apple fans defending Apple’s singular way of doing everything as the best and therefor only valid way, never mind that some people might like things different. (“Think different”, anyone? Ah, the irony.)

    Ron seems to be revving the engine, spinning the wheels, only to dig the ditch deeper here, in what seems more than anything like only some desperate attempt to protect his ego (all those footnotes, really?), instead of simply righting the wheel and driving out of the ditch by politely apologizing for offending from his ridiculous outlandish statements. And I will say that until that last DL show episode, I almost always appreciated Ron’s take on things, “different” as it often is. But his pigheaded insistence on holding onto his crazy views this time is just too much.

    • jahsoul

      You know, while it might be an “idiotic” sentence, it is also factual. lol. How many devices run pure Android? What is the #1 selling Android phone series?

      While I don’t agree that consumers don’t see to see stock Android, I also looking at everything objectively, and understand that most users don’t care about pure Android.

      • yankeesusa

        Great point. Right now the most selling android phone is the galaxy lineup and its getting bigger. I also think that google isn’t doing enough to advertise their nexus phones and I don’t think they care. They make more money from advertisement than anything else. I don’t think that is going to change.

    • You’re ending the line of reasoning to early. Why doesn’t Google need to show consumers stock Android? Because they don’t have access to it unless it is on their carrier of choice. The next section (which you presumably didn’t read) made that point.

      • NexusOnly

        Because it’s about platform dominance, not the dominance of the Nexus device.

        Google != Apple

  • ανώνυμος

    If the N5 has features like the Moto X and then some WITH some nice future-proof hardware and fresh ideas, I’d be willing to shell out double what Google is actually going to sell it for.

    • guesswhat

      What features of moto x does it have ? No assist .no chrome connect. No Active notifications ..no gesture to launch camera .. No touchless controls like moto x n5 will be always listening only device is awake and unlocked ..

      • ανώνυμος

        Man, if you’re getting factual specs and information on the Nexus 5 please share it with the rest of us! Everything that we currently know about the Nexus 5 are rumors and only rumors until Google says otherwise. Not to say the rumors can’t be true but it’s not guaranteed.

        Plus, you missed the very first word in my post.

        • “If” is one of the most underrated words. If it would come to Verizon I would be happy. If it doesn’t I will be sad.

      • Jeff

        Active Notifications is the only thing in that list of features I personally might find neat, but it’s not worth going with a Moto X and missing out on all the Nexus benefits just for that.

  • nexuscult

    The Nexus program does seem pretty pointless now. The remaining members of the Nexus cult are really starting to remind me of iSheep, willing to change carriers just to chase after a certain device, obsessing over specs that are mediocre and outdated, all just because there’s a certain label on it.

    Android system updates are the main attraction, the device that releases along with it has become just an after thought. The Nexus 5 is pretty lame, there’s a phone just like it called the G2 with better specs in a few very important categories.

    I’m dumbfounded at the fact that people seem to have forgotten that you can customize Android, or maybe there’s just a new wave of enthusiasts who don’t even know how to flash ROMs or something. Why obsess about a Nexus device that comes with a stock Android experience when you can do this with pretty much any phone out there with the slightest bit of a development community behind it? I could only understand the obsession with Nexus if Android was a locked-down OS where you can’t change anything, then definitely it would suck to be trapped in a world of TouchWiz and Sense and not be able to do anything about it aside from when Google puts out a device. But that’s simply not the case. Learn how to flash a ROM and you can dry your tears about how much manufacturer skins suck.

    For everyone over hyped about the Nexus 5, just remember people were excited about the Nexus 4 at one point too. How much are they loving their phones at this point? They’re some of the most desperate ones to upgrade because they are sick of their phones. Ironically they’re running right back to the same line of devices to upgrade.

    People are sounding like they are willing to change carriers and stab their grandma all to be able to get 4.4 a little earlier than other people. The incremental changes we’re seeing in 4.4 hardly seem worth it. White icons. A few different app integrations like more services being combined into Google Hangouts. This hardly seems worthy of the hysteria and drooling over leaks. The only time Android made a huge jump that was worth wanting to have was ICS. Maybe 5.0 will be relevant again, but 4.4 just isn’t.

    Even if 4.4 rocks your world, the point is, that’s not a lasting effect. I wonder how many people will change carriers and do whatever it takes to get a Nexus 5, and then after the novelty wears off and 4.4 starts to feel like just another OS on your phone that you no longer even pay attention to, maybe you’ll start to realize you have a phone with an 8mp camera and a small-ish battery, maybe you’ll realize whichever carrier you switched to in a panic doesn’t have coverage in the same spots that you used to have, or the same speeds. And maybe after the first year or so the Nexus 5 will be just like the Nexus 4 where people will have realized all of its warts and can’t wait to change devices.

    I love stock Android myself, I just don’t see the obsession with the Nexus devices. I bought the original Nexus 7 because I thought it would be soooo cool to have a device getting immediate updates all the time. Sold it on eBay a few months later.

    I myself will be staying with Verizon, probably getting the G2, flashing whatever the hell ROM I want on it, enjoying the 3000mAh battery and stabilized 13mp camera. Sure maybe I be a part of the initial wave of people who get to experience the white status bar icons and other tiny changes of 4.4, but it’ll come soon enough, there are already one or two devs behind the G2 pledging that they’ll do what it takes to port it over.

    I wish you well Nexus cult. You’re really starting to seem like those “other” iPeople who are willing to pay 80 dollars for specialized accessories that only work with your device, or stand in line for something that has last year’s specs.

    The power of Android is that you aren’t at the mercy of whatever is on the device when it comes out of the box. You can go buy anything and make it into the stock Android experience that you desire.

    • Skittlez

      i stopped reading after the second paragraph. for you to say that the nexus 5 is dumb is ridiculous. it’s a flagship device with 1080p and a snapdragon 800 for $349 with the latest version of android. when the N5 releases, it will have 4.4 out of the box, and the G2 will still be on 4.2.2. Nexus devices are to showcase android and the way it should work. i can get a G2, but no ROM will be able to let me use google Wallet, but out of the box, a N5 at $349 will be able to do it just fine. In my experience, i have used stock android on devices that came skinned, and nothing, and i mean NOTHING, has ever run stock android with as much fluidity as a nexus device. even the Nexus 4 with the S4 Pro is a better android experience than my G2

      • NexusOnly

        There’s a lot of stupid going on in this article and comments. . . best to realize Ron’s junk here is for the itrolls that frequent this site now because of him.

  • Fadzil Mohd Ashari

    im a nexus user, but i agree. google also need to make their own hardware instead of depending on other company. like apple product.

    • Jeff

      Apple doesn’t have their own factories, they still have to have other companies make their products, and still use parts from other manufacturers. Apple is software and design, not manufacture.

  • Neil Fujiwara

    I think this topic creates a lot of fracturing among the Android community. I for one have never bought a Nexus phone device and I don’t foresee myself purchasing one in the near future (mainly because I plan to stay with Verizon). I agree with Ron that before a Nexus device was necessary to be the example product of what Android could be. However, I think after Froyo, skins started getting better and phone manufacturers were learning the potential of Android. I remember looking at ICS and remembering that a lot of the features were available with MotoBlur, yes the hated MotoBlur.

    I think that Samsung has used Android correctly and marketed it brilliantly to the point where it is not Android vs Apple, but rather Galaxy vs Apple. Google allowed phone manufacturers to do whatever they wanted with Android and the Nexus line was an introduction to the potential of what you can do with the most recent OS update. For me the Nexus device is more of a device that is the skeleton of a the next evolutionary step of a species, similar to Homo Habilis to Erectus. Considering that Kit Kat will debut on a device that is current tech, I can only imagine the possibility that lightly skinned/Touchwized phones will show in 2014.

  • interstellarmind

    …you guys continue hatin’ on the Nexus 5. It’ll leave more $300 state-of-the-art mobile computing devices for the rest of us.

    Bottom line: nexus is meant to get people involved in the Android ecosystem affordabley. That’s it, I don’t think there really needs to be any other purpose or stated goal.

    • not

      Someone wanting an affordable way to experience Android will go get a subsidized phone through a carrier with a contract. There’s nothing cheap about a Nexus 5 compared to going to get an HTC One or something at Best Buy for $50.

      • Jeff

        $350 Nexus 5 on a $30/mo non-contract is much more affordable than a $50 phone on a $80/mo contract. Do the math.

  • Roog

    I agree with many of your points, however the expectations that you have had for the Nexus devices seem in line with your experience with the iPhone, which, if I remember correctly from earlier postings, is your everyday phone (my apologies if I am wrong).

    Android spread quickly and accelerated past the iPhone (in number of phones) to dominate the market. I believe that by Google allowing the manufacturers to modify Android to suit their devices (for better or for worse), more devices flooded the market and overtook the iPhone sales numbers. That was a smart move. Meanwhile, Google quietly developed the Nexus line for the reasons you state. I look forward to the future of Nexus/Android devices, regardless of their unimpressive past development.

  • Bako

    Great article, I couldn’t agree more, I like your use of the term “spiritual” to mean “symbolic” as it does in Revelations.

  • John Brown

    The Nexus line keeps improving with every model .. Ive been an avid user of the Nexus S , Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 , and soon the Nexus 5 .. every model has been a dramatic improvement and I cant state how much I prefer naked android experience over the Samsung touchwiz (I own the note 2 and LOVE the hardware but DESPISE the software) … Cant wait for the Nexus 5 to get here.. 2nd gen Nexus 7 tablet is by far the best bang for the buck (screw u ipad minis!!) and hopefully the much anticipated Nexus 10 second gen will compete with the ever dominant line of ipads … whoever says the Nexus lineup is dying down… I say they are just getting started !!!

  • Rodeojones000

    I’m sure this will get buried in the mountain of comments on here, but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this piece. While I disagree with the overall opinion that the Nexus line isn’t as important as it used to be, there are some really good points in here.

    I also want to add that the fact that you, Ron, are an admitted iOS user should mean absolutely nothing. It’s sad that there are those on here saying your opinion is invalid because of your phone of choice. I own a Chevy Avalanche and Chevy Impala, does this mean I’m not entitled to have an opinion regarding Fords or Toyotas?

    And regarding your iPhone choice, I now see where you’re doing from. I dropped my GNex 3 weeks ago and the screen shattered. I tried to give it a go, but it was too broken. I got an iPhone 4S for free from a friend and I’m really impressed. The decision to go with the Nexus 5 or stick with the iPhone will be very hard. A month ago I never would have guessed that.

  • aDROIDfreeworld

    “The carriers continue to have the control of the relationship between consumers and manufacturers and the FCC seems content to let that oligarchy continue.”

    And this right here is why Android will be unable to provide the cohesiveness of iOS. It is sad, it is true, but until Google changes it’s it’s priorities with Android as an operating system… This will always be true.

    Kellex, you nailed it on the head durr. We all appreciate your perspective on this issue, and continue to hope that Google will one day manage to further a stronger position over there carriers to achieve this goal.

  • Jordan

    So….I’m stuck w/ Verizon but I need a phone upgrade. What do I do?
    1) Wait it out for a while to see if the Nexus comes to Verizon before December
    2) LG G2
    3) Moto X
    4) Note 3.0

    • MikeSaver

      If you’re interested in a Nexus, I’d go with the Moto X since it’s basically stock android with some added features that arguably improve stock.

      That’s what I’m doing anyway. Not a fan of LG’s skin. Also have more hope for Google owned Moto to get continued update support through life of the device. Not counting on it though.

      • Skittlez

        i’d agree, but most of us are going to be coming from the Gnex with unlimited data, and i can’t justify spending $600 to keep unlimited, on the Moto X when the G2 and HTC One is available at the same price.

        • MikeSaver

          Why not? From all accounts I’ve heard, the Moto X is on par if not preferred over those devices.

          • Skittlez

            because they’re pretty much Nexus 4 specs with G2 pricing. i’m not saying it’s a bad phone, and what people need to realize is that when you’re actually paying for a phone, you’re paying for the hardware itself mostly. 720p? S4 Pro? 16GB? 2GB RAM? these were the specs of the nexus 4 last year when it released with a quad-core at $349. i don’t think active display(available in the play store) and touchless controls automatically bumps this up $250.

    • nomoto

      First I would wait just a few more days to see if an official Nexus 5 announcement does happen in October. If there is no mention of Verizon, at the very least a vague reference that a CDMA version will be coming at some “later date” after the GSM phones, then I would consider yourself in the clear to not wait to see the N5 on Verizon.

      I keep seeing people saying get the Moto X if you can’t get the N5. I can’t comprehend why people don’t realize to get the G2. It IS the Nexus 5, with a bigger screen, larger battery, and higher resolution camera.

      Who cares about LG’s manufacturer skin? Have people forgotten the entire point of Android? You can customize. CyanogenMod ROMs are finally starting to come out for the G2, even some 4.3 ROMs, and once the N5 comes out some dev will get to work on porting 4.4 over.

      If you get the Moto X you’re at Motorola’s mercy for releasing updates, and they have a pretty terrible track record of that especially with devices like the Bionic.

      Plus the Moto X is an entirely different device than the Nexus 5, meaning to get 4.4 working they have to layer Active Display, Touchless Controls etc on top of 4.4 and then get the update sent out. The LG G2 is such a similar device that porting KitKat stuff over should happen pretty quick. Only get the Moto X if you want a device with a screen size, display resolution, and battery life that was standard about 2 years ago.

      • Skittlez

        this may seem like a dumb reason to others, but i want to be able to use Google Wallet, and you can’t with the G2 (at least on Verizon.) lacks the secure element and no ROM will get that working, and its an annoyance, because thats something offered by Google that i can’t use. that being said, the G2 is a great phone, but i can pretty much guarantee that AOSP on the N5 will be better than AOSP on the G2. and what about the people that don’t want to have to root and do all that? some people are fine with plain stock and just want the direct, immediate updates. thats honestly what i want, and i could do without having free mobile hotspot.

  • Logan

    You people don’t even #holo. Android in general is for people that are “tech geeks” and “google enthusiasts”. People who don’t want a stock Android experience may as well just use iPhones. The only useful carrier overlay I’ve seen thus far is knockon on the G2. LG also happens to make the N4 and N5. Praise be Duarte.

    • Matthew Rebmann

      That was a very narrow minded post. I love stock and I do wish that is was the only thing available at times but why shouldn’t people have a choice? Despite all the uselessness involved, some of the customizations are actually useful. Android is great BECAUSE it’s so versatile.

      • Chris

        Exactly. I personally prefer Sense. 4.x and above. I really like Sense 5. I know some hate it, but does that mean i should go all crazy? Nope. I use what I like, others can use what they like. Android is all about choice and you can always root or install a launcher.

        • Tim

          I’ve only owned the OG droid and Gnex. So if I were to get the G2, if I were to put Nova L. on it would that get rid of their skin on the phone completely? I more than likely plan on getting the moto x once the motomaker is available on Verizon. But If anyone can answer my ? I would appreciate it. Thanks.

          • LionStone

            No it won’t change it system wide. ie. You can change icons, but the dialer will be the same. You can add swipe gestures, you can omit the notification bar, you can add 2-3 docks, customize your app drawer, folders and your unread counter, that sorta thing.

          • Droid 1967

            currently before verizon patches it the G2 is a nexus pretty much.
            It has the capability to do exactly what the nexus does although its a locked bootloader it doesnt appear to be with Loki. and we will have kitkat shortly after release on the G2. im betting that wont be true for the moto x and the specs on the G2 beat the moto x not by only hardware but by performance, battery life 32 gigs, wireless charging (not sure about the moto x on the charging and if 32 gigs is available)
            If you enjoyed the og and gnex for the custom romability you can have that on the G2 or have a pretty decent phone on the stock rom. Lg really did a good job on this phone.

    • Chris

      That statement might have been true a few years ago. but now everyday people are buying android based phones.

  • One point that I haven’t heard mentioned yet for a reason for the Nexus is Google’s device that first has the new version of Android. Okay, not in every case, but kind of like The Galaxy Nexus was the first to have ICS, that was a big deal. The Nexus 5 will be the first to have 4.4 KitKat, that’s a big deal.

    Ron, I appreciate your opinion and thoughts… I really agree with you mostly. Keep up the good work, we the DL community are lucky to have multiple and differing opinions, don’t listen to the haters.

  • Sir Alex

    The point about competing with your customers is just absurd.

    • By customers do you mean competitors? And what about it is absurd?

      • Sir Alex

        Everybody in the Android business makes you money. Even the likes of HTC make you money while they are bleeding to death themselves. Why do you want to kill that off?

        The guy that provides the infrastructure always make money. That is not the case for the guy that uses the infrastructure.

        • That’s actually not true. Google makes money based on ads and based on the most recent data Google makes more money on iOS than they do on Android despite Android’s market share. Analysts continue to insist that iOS users use the web far more than Android users. Right now Google’s strategy of relying on the OEMs isn’t working like it should. More market share should mean more eyes on ads, but that isn’t happening. If Google completely controls the platform then they can do something about it. Leaving it up the Samsung and HTC means they may not be able to do anything about it.

          • NexusOnly

            You keep spouting this nonsense!

            If Google doesn’t keep hardware partners Android dies and MS & apple dominate, and Google will be pushed out of all mobile ad revenue in time. I cannot believe you can’t get that!

            Their strategy is working just fine. Android is THE dominant platform! And that allows them a foothold in the market which they can leverage over time. Killing that is just plain stupid! — and that’s exactly what you suggest?!?!?!?

            Ron, you really don’t understand how Google does things, you’re stuck in an apple world. Google creates disruption in a market then outperforms everyone in that market, just as they’ve done in the mobile market. Then, once they gain dominance they will leverage that dominance to make more money. Just because the current state of ad revenue says one thing doesn’t mean that’s the future.

            I just cannot believe you are so thick that you can’t understand that Google MUST have hardware partners like Samsung — just like MS used partners to dominate the PC industry. . . . sorry apple has fallen behind and has become less relevant, but trying to convince others that Google should behave like them is just dumb!

            No wonder why so many people are so frustrated when you write and make comments. . . you can’t pull your head out of apple’s backside to get anything other than “apple’s way.”

          • Google is making four times more money on iOS than they are on Android despite Android having far more market share. http://gizmodo.com/5897457/google-makes-four-times-more-money-from-ios-than-android

            That means all those Android devices out there are not accomplishing Google’s goal of selling ads. The plan is actually not working.

          • NexusOnly

            Again, faulty logic!

            ios users are not Android users, just as Windows users are not Mac users — each group is very different.

            Nor does your argument include Google’s future plans.

            And as I’ve pointed out to you, Google needs platform dominance more at this point in time than it needs it to sell ads on its platform. If Android doesn’t dominate and gets pushed to a low market share then Google has NO leverage to sell ads on other platforms. . . and will have NO future — as you pointed out Android is their future.

            Therefore, platform dominance/market share is THE primary goal at this point in time. Monetizing it will happen. . . Google has shown they know how to monetize when the time is right.

            Apple tried, and failed, to push Google out of their ad market on iOS once, and they’ll try again.

            See, Ron, your premises are faulty from the start thus you end up with wrong conclusions.

            . . .

            Today’s ad revenues do NOT equate to future ad revenues.

            Nor do you have a clear vision of Google’s long term strategies — you are NOT a Google exec.

            Thus, your whole argument if faulty, invalid, unsound, and therefore comes to wrong conclusions.

          • The old argument of get market share now and make money later only works if you have an actual way to make money once you have the market share. Google has the market share now and they aren’t making the money they should. Speculating that Google has a plan to sell more ads isn’t a good argument.

          • NexusOnly


            That’s now your new argument? That in the past two years Google hasn’t turned Andorid into an ad whore?

            The mobile OS race is far from finished and Google knows they have to move slowly and precisely not to fubar the balance they have with partners.

            I’m astounded that you think the race is over, and Google can do whatever they want with Android now. . .

            My “speculative” argument, is a pragmatic argument (look it up) based on Google’s past ability to monetize products, and is therefore rather sound and valid — much more so than anything I’ve seen from you thus far. You are saying current ad revenue = futur ad revenue — I want your crystal ball.

          • Shawn Custer

            Hm those numbers are from 2011, but lets say that’s true today, I suspect with iOS7 changing the default search engine from google to bing… that will change.

          • That is a very real possibility. Surely Apple knows that Google has better results, so what better way to eat away at their revenue? I imagine that’s why Google basically hides Google search as a search provider for IE.

        • NexusOnly

          Ron can’t comprehend a different business model outside of apple’s. . . that’s the whole point of this article — Ron’s a closed minded apple fan that can’t think different.

  • OnlyNexus

    Dear Ron,
    Let me know when the iPhone reaches $350 unlocked!
    Until then STFU!

    • ToolUser

      Android is a tool to accomplish a task. iOS is also a tool to accomplish a task. Heck, even Windows OS is a tool, that may or may not be able to accomplish tasks. They are all great because they give all users a choice of tools to accomplish the task at hand.

      I’m guessing since your name contains “Nexus” you want to be a tool to and, by all means, you’ve accomplished your goal…. Only with you, we didn’t have a choice…..

    • Chris

      What a great and useful post. Nice contributing to the discussion there!

    • Chris

      Calm down there boy!

  • Anon

    “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.”


    As much as like the Android ecosystem, I’m in total agreement with you here. Google has had a shining window where they could re-take control of the Android ecosystem in a way that pressures carriers (especially US ones) and phone vendors to work together for a unifying experience that makes users happy; orchestrated right, they could exert the level of control Apple has done with the iPhone and IOS. Whether one likes Apple or not, iOS 7 has already received *three* updates since release. My Droid MAXX has been out longer, and has received none, including the Moto X camera update that should be quite similar. I think that Google has a window of opportunity for this, but the window can and will close.

    Sometimes, I feel like Google makes such a huge stride in something that it does, only to hang back when they could really put the icing on the cake. This isn’t just Android –it’s so many of their products that are perhaps 75-80% of their true potential, kind of like a B-grade student capable of so much more. The only reasoning I can think of for this in the tablet/smartphone world is that their true goal is a lot different from the goals of true Android enthusiasts, and that if 75-80% of the experience gets theme to their goals, why go further?

  • jbdan

    My opinion of the articles opinion is that I appreciate the writeup regardless. I also am of the opinion that Apple “could be more, much more”. We all could. However, this reaffirms why I am a fan of Android 🙂 Now bring on the N5 Goog’s (please)!

  • Shawn

    Am I the only one who saw the nexus 4 TV ads ? I even saw it in a few auto ads one though I can’t remember which car it was for , was about an app for the cars maintence info the other was for the camery. The Camery one was about the car having a built in wireless charging the guy placed a nexus 4 on it to charge it.

  • starnovsky

    All I care about is that in the current iteration it’s a by far the best value in smartphones. Something that I can buy outright and use on prepaid carrier without a contract or other carrier crap. If not Nexus, then what else? GPE phones are too expensive. Lumia probably? Or iPhone 4s, God forbid.
    I don’t want to pay $600 for a phone, nor I want to get into contract.

  • Ryan

    I read this entire thing and I still don’t understand what Ron’s point was.

    • Tim242

      Nor do I. So many people have no idea what the Nexus is meant for, yet so many have their crazy opinions.

      • Chris

        many get worked up over a phone in general.

    • My point from the very first paragraph: “I believe [Nexus devices] could mean so much more [to consumers] than they do today.”

      • OnlyNexus

        Such as?

        And make sure it can be done at as low a price as possible to keep the product an attractive off contract purchase, not a over-priced status symbol.

        • jahsoul

          The Nexus One and Nexus S was $500+ off contract. It wasn’t always about a cheap phone.

          • NexusOnly

            That was a low price for the hardware at the time. . . .So, yes they’ve always pushed the price as low as they could.

          • jahsoul

            LOL….are you serious??

            IIRC, the Nexus S cost more than the iPhone 4 at release. At release, the first 3 Nexus phones were expensive. (many people forget that before Google started selling the 16GB online, the unlocked GSM GNex was almost $600). I see what they are doing now, but that was not always the case.

          • Skittlez

            i think he means to try and do that today. not 3 and 4 years ago

        • It would mean more if it was available to more and if Google tried to market it as something consumers should choose instead of other phones.

          • Chris

            This includes in store too as people do still visit physical stores.

          • NexusOnly

            anyone can go online and buy it, thus it is available to anyone. putting it in stores, more marketing, etc. increases the price and defeats the purpose.

            That’s what ron can’t get. the “average user” just wants whatever is pushed at them in the store, they don’t want and unlocked inexpensive device, they want subsidized.

          • Skittlez

            the galaxy nexus was in verizon stores(where i bought mine) and the nexus 4 was in t-mobile when i went to try it in person before i bought it. come to think of it, the only nexus phone that wasn’t in stores was the Nexus One. Hmm.

          • NexusOnly

            Who isn’t it available to? Anyone that wants to use it on a GSM network can buy it — sorry CDMA is not a world standard and Verizon sucks!

            you’re just restating the same thing.

            How do the do it and keep the price as low as possible?
            You can’t!

            More marketing = higher price and does NOT mean it is available to any more people than previous, only that it’s being marketed to them.

          • Skittlez

            and if you mean it’s not available to everyone since it won’t be available on verizon, just remember that there was a time when the iPhone was only available on AT&T, and that was the greatest selling phone at the time.

          • Yep, and Apple coerced the other carriers to put the iPhone on their network without Apple ceding control because Apple was able to demonstrate huge demand. Google cannot make the same argument.

          • NexusOnly


            The Nexus not being on Verizon means nothing to the Nexus program or Android as a whole. It only means you’re butthurt over it. That doesn’t make it irrelevant or lesser by any means.

            That argument is never ending. The iphone is irrelevant because it’s not on every network in the world, same for x device, etc. . .

            Ridiculous argument!

          • Skittlez

            Actually, it took the iPhone 4 generations to get their phone on all carriers and took the Nexus line 3. but we all know the reasons behind the iPhone getting on there. iOS is only available on 1 phone, so of course it would be the highest selling phone. thats because android has choices. but more importantly, Nexus isn’t about sales. it’s about offering. Nexus devices are used for showing their OS and what new features are, and offering it on a device that will get it in it’s purest form at great cost to let you enjoy their experience to the fullest, and the way they designed it to be. the fact that other phones will be running it with skins is a given.

          • Technically it took Apple 5 to get full T-Mobile support, but yeah, it took a while. Even when Google got their phone on every carrier they didn’t get the same deal Apple did – the carrier versions of the Nexus had to wait for updates to be approved.

          • Skittlez

            i see what you’re saying, but regardless, a nexus device on verizon is still a nexus device. there’s still the option to easily unlock/root and load the latest build. but i’d still rather have a slowed down nexus than no nexus

          • Agreed.

  • chisox

    This is about tracking what mobile devices are doing so that advertising can be targeted. More android phones is better. Google no longer cares who makes the phones, as long as they run android.

  • joejoe5709

    Ron… Time to lay low for awhile. Jeebus man you really know how to bring out the militant fanboys. I liked you better when you were our resident iPhone user and the ying to our yang. But this was unnecessary and I really had to read it twice to understand where you’re coming from. And I think you’re partially right, but the way your worded it is going to piss off a lot of people.

    Agreed that Google could really do some good with promoting stock Android better. It feels kinda icky knowing Samsung has really become Android’s Apple instead of Google being it’s own Apple – if that makes sense. Not that there’s any hatred toward Samsung. They’ve helped carry Android into the stratosphere and if it wasn’t them, someone else would have done the same. Android needed a visible leader like Samsung. Let’s hope the purchase of Motorola can reverse a little bit of that though.

    I thought the 2013 Nexus 7 was their best-handled device yet. Hype was created. Supply was not blasted by demand and there have been several commercials highlighting real-world uses. The specs are downright mind-blowing especially when price is considered. This was a properly executed, properly advertised, and properly sold device.

    They have yet to execute a phone release correctly. Let’s hope the Nexus 5 changes that. Let’s hope the Nexus name becomes a household name. Personally? As much as they want to be free of carrier control – they need to be sold by every major carrier in their brick-and-mortar stores. Selling (nearly) exclusively by Google Play is not acceptable.

    Properly advertised, I’d like to see Google use the Nexus program to show the strengths of Android. Sure, Samsung can do this and do that. But I want people to see how far Android in general has come. I want them to see the glitch-free smooth animations, the customization options, how useful Google Now is, how integrated it is with the Google ecosystem, etc. Let them see the positives of a stock Android experience not just the bang-for-buck promises.

  • rocs_macho

    Still trying to figure out how the G-Nex was a redesigned S2. What exactly did it borrow or have in common with the S2?

    • joejoe5709

      Actually pretty similar to what they’re doing with the G2/Nexus 5. Similar hardware in a different body. I think the US GNex was vastly different than the GSII. It even had a different processor.

      I think at this point, Google has no intention of taking a current phone and Nexusifying it. They have certain needs and standards and then see which OEM has the best parts bin to borrow from to make their phone. And really it’s all about optimization. Android 4.4 will be optimized to work best with the Nexus 5’s setup.

      • rocs_macho

        I get your point about what Google is wanting and or attempting to do w/ current and future Nexus phones…but keeping it related to the Galazy Nexus and S2, where is the S2 influence? Not even sure what the 5 is really using from the G2 other than screen tech. All other hardware is expected b/c that’s what other topped spec’d phones are using.

    • Some variants of the S2 had the OMAP 4430, Gnex had 4460; both were based on the ARM Cortex A9 processor. Both had 1 GB of RAM. You can argue that the Galaxy Nexus display was closer to the GS3’s and obviously the camera was worse compared to the GS2, but otherwise they had similar internals. Google obviously asked for more changed with the Galaxy Nexus than they did with the Nexus S. Also the Galaxy Nexus had multiple variants in terms of battery size and processor speed. It was a weird phone.

      • John Davids

        “other than pretty much everything in the phone, these two phones are identical”

        thats what i just read. But yeah, trying to claim the G-nex was a “variant” or even related to the S2 is just silly. It wasn’t, pure and simple. Your argument is exceedingly weak if your two leading, primary reasons why they are the same is “they have the same generation CPUs and the same amount of ram”. lol.

        • I never said they’re identical; just similar.

          • John Davids

            Uh, no, actually what you said was this:

            “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.”

            and then this:

            “The Galaxy Nexus followed suit as a redesienged Galaxy S2 with a larger battery and an inferior camera”

            That is quite a bit more than “just similar”. Sorry, but the G-nex was not Google repackaging the S2. You are categorically wrong. To think otherwise would be an exercise in willful ignorance of the facts. Also, you misspelled “redesigned”.

          • Thanks for pointing out the typo. I agree that the differences between the S2 and the Galaxy Nexus are more than I originally wrote. I do think Samsung and Google were working off of the basics with the S2, but they are definitely far more different than say the original S and the Nexus S.

  • BulletTooth_Tony

    Nexus devices don’t matter, because Android is an afterthought as a brand name – even by Google’s own hand with continuing to use cutesy dessert names – and Nexus obscures that name further. Samsung has created a brand monster with the Galaxy name. Nexus isn’t on the number of devices the Galaxy name is. It doesn’t have the mind share… And to this day “Droid” still gets tossed around as though it’s the name of the operating system. They’ve fallen behind on brand name. And they may never catch up.

  • Jefferson Peak

    You’e completely missing the point of the Nexus line of devices. They are not and will never be meant to compete with their OEMS, talk about a monumentally stupid move. The original and probably still current goal of the Nexus devices was to set a base line to which all other OEMs had to be at or above. It’s to demo new technology and functionality and show there is a market for it that their OEMs need to meet, wireless charging anyone, nexus 7 for the tablet market? And yes it’s also to provide cheap good hardware for enthusiasts and developers that can act as a good baseline for plain android development.

    Heavily marketing and trying to compete with their OEMs would be the dumbest idea ever. Google are building a community with their OEMs and you don’t do that by pissing off all the other community members. But at the same time you need to set the community standards as the founder and keep the community towing the line and innovating. Google knows OEMs are fundamentally not interested in developing unless someone pushes them a bit and what better way than through the Nexus line.

    • anezarati

      “The original and probably still current goal of the Nexus devices was to set a base line to which all other OEMs had to be at or above. It’s to demo new technology and functionality and show there is a market for it that their OEMs need to meet”

      i think you are missing Ron’s point. Nexus devices no longer set a baseline for OEMS because they are just reconfigured devices from that OEMs current flagship. in fact nexus devices have probably taken some of the best hardware features off of the flagship devices they were inspired from.

      i think the nexus tablet line is what the phone line should be.

      • OnlyNexus

        Actually they do set a “baseline” for OEMs and developers.

        By putting stock optimized android on similar hardware Google shows how the OS “should” operate. . . which makes the skinned OEM stuff look bad, and it gives developers that one phone that should work “properly” to test against. . . etc. . . .

        If people can’t see those two things they are blind.

        We can also talk about how the subsidized Nexus line undermines the carriers’ control, since Google doesn’t have apple’s leverage. . .

        • anezarati

          We are talking about two different things here. My original comment was regarding hardware, you are talking about software.

          And I think we can agree that the Nexus line has become more about software and not hardware

          • NexusOnly

            it’s about pairing the two together in an optimal way for what is currently available at a reasonable price.

      • Jefferson Peak

        That’s fine it’s still setting a baseline. If OEMs are already ahead of that then that’s ok it doesn’t have to constantly be pushing the line because again that would just upset their OEMs. It just has to maintain that line even if it’s just copying from their OEMs. If the OEMs ever fall back then google can push the line again and make them catch up. It’s just a safety catch to make sure innovation happens not always be the flagship of innovation. If you try that you end up like Apple running out off innovative ideas and ending up looking like a fool.

  • Khary Anderson

    I will never understand how Google does not have the same power that Apple has over carriers (looking at you Verizon). As a Verizon android user since 2008, the best phone to have on Verizon (in terms of overall experience), is an iPhone..

    just got my Moto X camera update 2 weeks after everyone else

    • I think it’s because Google can’t demonstrate demand for Nexus phones like Apple was able to demonstrate with the iPhone.

      • LionStone

        Oh no I’m sure Google can, but they thankfully don’t force feed it on everyone like Apple does and pull the wool over its customers eyes. Google is Google and they’re not trying to be like Apple, and I doubt they care whether the Nexus program makes sense to everyone.

        • Not until they reveal device sales.

        • Chris

          and yet this is what many android fans here want. I’ve been an Android user since 2010 but do I want Google to force the stock look or nexus devices in peoples faces? Nope.

    • AbbyZFresh

      Android is open source and has less security than closed iOS. Meaning Verizon doesn’t want phones that customers want to complain to them about regarding the OS. This gives the image that Google is weaker than Apple in the sense that they don’t control their own OS and hardware(created by other OEMs). Plus Google isn’t very good at marketing their products well. They aren’t a massively worshipped brand name in the mobile phone world the way Apple is.

  • Stewie

    I stopped reading to scroll down at “Ron”… Nuff said, move along …

  • TheUI

    Y’all need Jesus. I awaited the new iPad announcement and after seeing what the mini brought to the table for $400 I gladly went out and laid down $260 for a 32GB Nexus 7.

    Agreed, focus on camera.
    Agreed, focus on battery life.

    Otherwise its just spec whore`n for the most part, and doesn’t mean squat.

    And as someone who is excited for an Android software event for the first time, because I know ill get it, I urge you to remember what life was like before Nexus. Word is bond.

  • Marcel Jeannin II

    Go back to your iPhone.