I remember when the Google Play Edition program was announced back in mid-2013, and we all thought it was a pretty good thing. Popular, top-shelf hardware but with a plain vanilla version of Android, ripe for the enjoyment and the hacking. Well, it didn’t take long for the disappointment to grow, as, with most things, the Google Play Edition program was largely for the US market only. We did get some access to these phones in Australia via grey importers, but that really wasn’t the same thing.
Google evidently lost a bit of interest in the GPE program, when phones started disappearing from the lineup, and there were rumours that some other program might replace it, that the GPE program might replace the Nexus program. While it seems none of those rumours have come to light, it certainly does seem that the GPE program is headed for the scrap heap.
One of the last two (and incidentally one of the first two) GPE handsets, the Samsung Galaxy S4 GPE, has quietly disappeared from the US Play Store in recent days. It joins a long list of former GPE devices once available for sale, including the HTC One (M7), Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Moto G, and LG G Pad 8.3.
Now there’s one last contender; HTC’s One (M8) GPE, and the likely reality is that will soon disappear as well. The Galaxy S4 is approaching two years old in the next couple of months, and the HTC One (M8) will be one soon. When lined up against the Nexus 5 (which is ageing a little) and the much newer Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, the GPE devices really just don’t seem as appealing anymore, so it makes sense that they start to fade away.