Editorial: The Nexus Name Has Died, Can Google Bring It Back?

On October 19th of last year, I posted my first news article on this very site. That news article was about Google’s announcement of the Galaxy Nexus, the newest superphone at the time. It also marked the launch of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is still making its way to devices now. At the event, no US carriers were announced, but not too long after Verizon came out to state it would be carrying an LTE version of the handset. After a few delays, the Galaxy Nexus finally hit the US on Big Red.

Except there was one issue: Verizon’s Nexus wasn’t a Nexus.

Historically, Nexus devices have been phones featuring completely stock builds of Android, and no carrier branding anywhere on the device. Those two characteristics define what a Nexus is, and Verizon’s variant didn’t fit either of those. The device had two Verizon apps pre-loaded, effectively taking the stock out of the Android build. Throw in the branding on the back of the device, and you’ve got a device that’s no different from the latest DROID or EVO.

After speaking with Evan Selleck from PhoneDog, it became clear to me that Google has lost their control. If device manufacturers like Apple can get a handset on Verizon without any sort of extra software or carrier branding, why can’t Google? They even let Samsung step all over them, as the ‘Galaxy’ part of Galaxy Nexus has no reason being there. The Galaxy brand is Samsung’s, not Google’s. It should be kept out of a device name that is part of a different line of phones.

A Nexus device is supposed to receive updates before other Android handsets, but as Taylor Wimberly from Android and Me pointed out in an article earlier today, Verizon is holding the Nexus back from receiving some essential updates.

Google killed their own brand.

Now we’re hearing that Google has plans to launch up to five new Nexus devices, to be created by more than one manufacturer. Not only will Google be using the Nexus branding on the devices, but will supposedly be selling the devices themselves. That’s right, the plan is to cut out carriers, go the unlocked route, and take full control. Will that actually happen? This tech blogger isn’t getting his hopes up.

Google has destroyed what was once the most coveted brand of phones among hardcore Android users, and more devices won’t fix the problem. Google needs to go back to its roots, it needs to create a device with pure Android at heart, no branding other than its own. Is that too much to ask for?

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