Regarding “Google’s Nexus Phones Are Just Ads”

Verge’s Savov writes a misleading article that touches some dangerous points.

He starts off with the wrong idea:

“The Nexus program is not so much about carrier independence or purity of Android design as it is about presenting Google in an overwhelmingly positive light.”

Carrier independence and purity of Android design is exactly what the Nexus program is about. Nexus phones are the only phones, besides maybe Motorola (and even there there are a couple of adjustments) that are pure Android. Positive light? No more than how good the phones are.

“Nexus phones are created in accordance with Google’s development plans for Android, and that’s a fair statement to make, but it doesn’t explain why they’re being released to the public.”

The Nexus phones are not created in accordance with Google’s development plans for Android, they are Google plans for Android. They are Android showcases, pure Android experience. Why are they being released to the public? To promote Android and have developers salivating thinking about what they can do with it.

Here’s where he takes a turn to the worse:

“Google, our knight in shining armor and a propeller hat, has come to save us from the evils of perfidious carriers, ugly Android skins, and late software updates. It’s a great story to tell people, and it’s being extended with the Project Fi cellular service, which is another Google venture designed to fix what the company believes is ailing the mobile market.”

If we leave the shining armor in the closet, Google is doing just that. Google knows that if it paves the way to better, easier market for consumers, it will also be the leader of that market. That’s what they do with most of their products, from Google Fiber to Chromebooks. There’s no hidden motive here, Google is pretty direct about marketing their products as the solution for education, communications, information, personal life, business, and pretty much everything else. Google has always been “beta” from the early days of Gmail.

“There isn’t a single Android device manufacturer that is happy with the Nexus program.”

Right, and Google is standing next to these device manufacturers with a gun pointed at their heads. LG gained nothing from the Nexus 4 and 5. Samsung got nothing from the Nexus S. HTC hated the Nexus one. They were all famous, well-off phone manufacturers before Google showed up and made them part of Nexus and Android.

“Like Google, all a Nexus manufacturer can hope to gain is the benefit of indirect marketing and a better reputation among Android diehards.”

And gaining a better reputation among billions of potential global consumers is a bad strategy? Isn’t it what Google has been doing? The Nexus devices best selling point is an idea, not a product. A brand is mightier than the dollar.

He digs the hole deeper:

“Every time there’s been an antihero in mobile, Google has sought to throw up a Nexus against it. That’s often come at the expense of Google’s own Android partners, who are made to look foolish and sluggish by comparison. I don’t think that’s fair or particularly healthy for the Android ecosystem as a whole.”

Let’s break it down.

  1. Google creates Android.
  2. Manufacturers come in, do whatever they wants with it (because they can).
  3. Manufacturers add eye-candy and apps that duplicate or compete with Android apps that runs on their own devices.
  4. Manufacturers end up having a mess on their hands, affectionately called “bloatware”.
  5. Customers are not happy.

Obviously, Google is to blame. They created an OS that runs so well on its own, we should handicap it on purpose to make sure the poor manufacturers have a fair chance. Sounds about right.

“How can a company that depends on making money from each unit of hardware sold hope to compete with that?”

Why stop at Google? Let’s stop Apple too. No one can compete with their quality, right? How dare they? And while at it, let’s stop Amazon from selling books (because independent bookstores are on decline). Lets regulate all the companies and kill innovation.

“If Google’s Nexus motivation was truly to set a template of good practices to follow, to define a user experience benchmark, and to seed the development of a better Android ecosystem, it would have stopped and applauded Motorola for its efforts this year.”

Let me get this straight: Google should stop developing Android, thank Motorola for taking the Android fire to the people, and back off to mount olympus to work on their next godly project. The reason I don’t have the Moto X right now? It’s too damn big. The reason I didn’t get the Nexus 6? It’s too damn big. See a connection here? There’s no conspiracy here and no brainwashing. The truth can really be that simple.

And finally, he buries himself:

“I don’t know whether to describe this as a knife in the back or an arrow to the knee, but Google’s actions are certainly doing violence to its Android partners’ best-laid plans.”

Google giveth, Google stabs and taketh away.

“In 2015, however, Android phone makers have grown more conscientious and restrained. Their software and industrial design are more elegant than ever, and their pricing is as aggressive as it can be.”

Would Samsung even have a marketing strategy without the iPhone? Would LG have software to use on their phones without Google? Without Google, phone manufacturers will continue selling at low prices from the good of their hearts, because you know, they are a “company that depends on making money from each unit of hardware sold.”

“Making Android profitable for Android phone makers is one of the great challenges of our time. We’re all better off when we buy things from sustainable companies that we know will still be around when we have an issue months or years down the line.”

You want to make Android phones profitable? Stop messing with Android and force bloatware down consumers throats. Can you imagine the day Apple lets consumer choose if to install their mail app or not? Or samsung stops pushing its own contacts app? HTC stops forcing their Sense skin on their phones? What company would give consumer the choice of unistalling apps from phone they made? Google would.

Vlad Savov has the wrong idea not just about the Nexus plan, but also about how innovation works.

Android is free for any developer to tinker with, and many companies already took advantage of this. Some, like Amazon and OnePlus (AKA CyanogenMod), cut their connection back to Google and decided to go solo. As far as I know, there’s nothing stopping me from creating the next great OS based on Android besides my own knowledge. According to Savov, however, my biggest enemy is Google, simply because they will keep creating great software. According to Savov, in such a market, no one has hope of succeeding. I can see him cheering for comcast when the day comes and Google’s Fiber really starts spreading. According to Savov, the only way to fairness is to handicap the innovators, even when they already give so much for so little.

Can Google make the next Nexus phone from Rearden metal?