There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Android Silver rumour which a number of sites have been reporting will replace the Nexus program. But so far, Google had not responded to the rumours. Overnight, ReadWrite spoke to the one person who could clear up the speculation, and clear it up he did – the Nexus program is not going anywhere.
Dave Burke, the head of Android engineering and the Nexus program at Google, is that man. He understandably wouldn’t actually comment on Android Silver, although the way he worded it, pretty much confirmed it. Regarding Android Silver, Mr Burke said
Android Silver is not something that we are commenting on right now
He further elaborated about the Android Silver program and the rumours surrounding it
So, where does that leave Nexus? Well, Android developers at Google still need something to develop code on. This is what the Nexus program is for, and it’s also for external developers. Speaking about the internal use case for Nexus phones, he said
When Google’s engineers write the open source code for new versions of Android, another team is also designing a Nexus device designed to take best advantage of Android’s new features. The two development processes go hand-in-hand, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
When we are working, there are sort of two outputs. We’re building a Nexus device and we’re building the open source code. There is no way you can build the open source code without the phone or tablet or whatever you are building. You have to live and breathe the code you are developing.
You can’t build a platform in the abstract, you have to build a device (or devices). So, I don’t think can can or will ever go away. And then, I think Nexus is also interesting in that it is a way of us explaining how we think Android should run. It is a statement, almost a statement of purity in some respects. I don’t see why we would ever turn away from that, it wouldn’t make sense.
I have actually have been personally feeling the Android Silver program had been overblown for sometime. I addressed this in a comment on reddit a couple of days ago, in response to a question about the rumoured end of the Nexus line. I wrote :
My personal feeling is that the Nexus line isn’t coming to an end. The Android Silver idea appears to me to be destined to not replace the Nexus line but the Google Play edition devices, which are at the moment going in and out of stock faster than a Spaniards bed springs on his wedding night.
Google Play edition devices have limited availability, many US residents who CAN access them don’t. This could be because they don’t even know they’re available to purchase, bringing them into carrier or retail stores in an Android Silver program would give them much larger visibility. Google never talks sales figures and because they purchase stock of the devices to sell in Google Play, so therefore as the customer is Google, neither does Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola or LG – the manufacturers behind Google Play editions.
The other side of the argument is that reporting on Android Silver has been very US focused. Many reporters have not thought about how far reaching the Nexus line is outside the US.
The Android Silver program reads as a Google Play edition writ large. But we know how quickly Google gets services and hardware out to the rest of the world – they don’t, not quickly. The reports of Android Silver taking over the Nexus line has come primarily from US media, a group who have free and easy access to the full gamut of Google hardware as well as services. Coverage of Android Silver has not been truly indicative of a global focus.
The Nexus 5 is now sold in 23 countries world-wide. The Nexus 7 WiFi is also sold in all these countries, with the LTE version sold in 12 of those countries, while 8 had access to the Nexus 10 when it went on-sale. Not a single one of those countries outside the US has access to Google Play edition devices, this leads to a very big question. Can Google work out deals with retailers and carriers in those 23 countries in order to maintain continuity for people wanting stock Android devices?
The Nexus phone and tablet line will continue. There’s rumours of the Nexus 6 already, no matter how tenuous you believe the rumours to be. Google itself, by way of Patrick Pichette, Chief Financial Officer acknowledged in their Q4 earnings call that Play Hardware sales, including Nexus were strong :
“Play hardware sales drove a big chunk of quarter-over-quarter growth. Nexus 5 was very strong for us, and the Chromecast was a best seller all quarter”
We know that Google kills off under-performing products, but from this admission, it seems that Hardware sales from Nexus is strong, so why would Google kill it?
My personal feeling is that the Nexus line will continue. The Android Silver line will be brought in to replace the Google Play edition devices at retailers in the US. Depending on the success or failure of Android Silver in the US market, it may roll out further.
Where do you stand on Android Silver and the Nexus line?