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Google has been running the Nexus program for a few years now, commissioning different manufacturing partners with the task of bringing forward their vision for Android into beautifully-crafted, bloat free devices. While those partnerships have been fruitful -- the recent Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were both well received -- now Google is looking to seize total control over the Nexus line according to The Information.
The move is likened to Apple’s vertically integrated strategy controlling every aspect of hardware and software. This essentially means a Nexus smartphone with no branding or design input other than that of Google. The company would still source components including chipsets, memory, RAM and more from third parties and would likely have the thing built by a contract manufacturer. That’s similar to what Google is currently doing with the Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C devices.
The thinking behind the change is not necessarily grounded on Google’s ambition to get a bigger profit from the Nexus line -- it just doesn’t like Apple’s dominance at the high end of the market and what it means for its business. According to the report, the goal is to create better high-end Android devices that will prompt longtime Apple loyals to finally make the switch. This, in turn, would presumably alleviate concerns that a lot of its mobile ad revenue comes from Apple devices and their willingness to play ball.
For some context, Google paid Apple $1 billion last year to be the default search engine on iOS devices and Apple still gets a cut on top of that every time an iPhone or iPad user sees a Google ad via the default search.
While it's clear why this makes Google uncomfortable, it remains to be seen if going solo with the Nexus line will actually make any difference in grabbing a bigger piece of the high-end market. Perhaps more marketing dollars and wider distribution through carriers would be more effective.