I’m not a big fan of change. I never have been. However, I’ve gotten to a place in life that when changes happen, I’m pretty quick at adapting to them in one way or another – but usually not until after I’ve undergone a brief period of shock and disbelief (which usually amounts to a simple “What?” and “No,” before coming to terms with whatever the change is). When I read a recent article from Android Central discussing the very real possibility that Google would not only abandon the Nexus name, but also its “vanilla” AOSP status, my first thoughts were, “What?" and "No.”
But it wasn’t hard to get on board with the idea, if it happens to be true. While Google’s Nexus line of smartphones have become a darling for mobile tech enthusiasts over the years, the fact of the matter is that the general populace doesn’t care about Nexus; I would even argue that most of them don’t even know that it exists.
Nexus is a peculiar thing. Each year, Google teams up with one or two manufacturers to create these devices running on stock Android. Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, and Huawei have all contributed to Nexus over the years, each offering a different and unique design for the device. Aside from featuring a stock version of Android, Nexus is also praised for having a reasonable price tag, and for being among the first in line for major Android updates (until they are no longer supported). This made the Nexus a solid choice for developers.
Still, there are a couple of downsides to Nexus depending on how you look at it. One downside is that most major carriers don’t end up carrying Nexus. Occasionally it shows up at one or two of them, but it isn’t commonplace. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that Nexus also has a serious lack of bloatware, which carriers love to stuff into phones. Ultimately, lack of availability through carriers is not a good thing when it comes to exposure of a device, as many people pick a phone based on what’s available in retail stores. The “official” home for Nexus devices is at the Google Store, which is currently hosted completely online.
The other downside is actually part of the reason why mobile enthusiasts like Nexus so much in the first place, which is that it runs stock Android. Having minimal bloat and no skin overlay is a good thing for the right people, but other Android manufacturers often flaunt their smartphone’s many features and designs as being what makes them so great. Nexus, on the other hand, currently doesn’t offer much when it comes to extra features.
It has always been this way. It feels like Nexus has gained popularity over the years, but not by much. That’s why when I heard that Google may be dropping the Nexus name for something more Google-oriented and straying from the “vanilla” aspect software-wise, I figured it might not be such a bad thing after all.
I’ve grown used to Nexus as a brand name, but I never thought it was a great brand name. I hope that Google goes with something more Google-centric, as brand recognition is a big deal in this industry. Most people know that the iPhone comes from Apple due to its age and, more importantly, its influence; Samsung phones are practically synonymous with the word “galaxy” now; Google phones are… well, aren’t they all Android phones? Simply walking into a store and asking for a “Google Phone” will get you a lot of answers. There are still people out there that don’t know that Android comes from Google, so if Google replaced the Nexus brand with something like “Google Phone” or even “G Phone”, people would likely warm up to the device because it’s a brand that they can recognize.
And then there’s the whole “tweaking” bit, where the same article from Android Central talks about further plans for Google to move away from stock Android. This poses to be the biggest issue as this was a main reason people liked Nexus in the first place, and I’m torn on whether it’s actually a good thing or not. On the one hand, I think more people will take notice in Nexus – or whatever it might be called – if Google added more features. On the other hand, there are already tons of phones out there with tons of features. Being plain was kind of Nexus’s thing. I think as long as they don’t go hog wild with the features, things would turn out to be just fine.
All in all, I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumor is true. At the very least, a rebranding seems like a solid move.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think Google should keep Nexus the same as it has always been, or are you hoping for new direction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!