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Google May Kill Its Nexus Line of Android Devices

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Due to lukewarm sales and limited public awareness, Google may drop its Nexus brand of Android phones and tablets.

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Last week, rumors swirled that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) may be on the verge of killing off a mainstay in its line of products: Google Plus. (See: Google Plus May Be on Its Last Legs.) And there's a bit of déjà vu this week as sources indicate that another Google staple could be coming to an end -- only this time the product is far more beloved.
 
A recent report by The Information claims that Google might discontinue its Nexus line of phones and tablets. The devices, which run the purest versions of the Android platform and (ideally) are among the first to receive OS updates when available, have earned a dedicated fan base that prefers high- or near-high-end hardware with stock Android over the proprietary skins and infrequent updates from popular devices lines like Samsung's (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy S.

Unfortunately, Nexus products were primarily relegated to online-based sales and never benefitted from the level of brand awareness that pushed Samsung and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices to the top of the bestseller lists.
 
In place of the Nexus brand, Google is rumored to launch Android Silver -- a program wherein the company selects a handful of devices that run the very latest version of Android with little to no software customization and promotes these devices to carriers and other retailers. And unlike the annual Nexus releases, Android Silver will not be limited to a single manufacturer.
 
Along with top-of-the-line hardware with uninstallable bloatware apps (if any), an Android Silver candidate must have the capacity to receive timely updates and boast premium features like personalized voice commands and a waterproof chassis in order to qualify for the program.
 
Although the Android Silver program bears much similarity to the existing "Google Play Edition" line of devices, which are flagship Android phones stripped of their manufacturer skins and locked bootloaders, the new initiative intends to put the promoted devices in retail locations -- unlike the Google Play Edition products which are only available online and unsubsidized. In addition, the lucky few chosen for Android Silver will receive heavy promotion and ad campaigns (The Information claims the budget could potentially reach $1 billion) and be promoted at in-store kiosks manned by specially trained employees.
 
Android Silver will purportedly launch "as soon as next year" in the US, Germany, and Japan, which means we could see at least one more round of Nexus devices before they're theoretically killed off. LG and Motorola are said to be the top manufacturing candidates for the Android Silver launch, with Samsung, HTC, and Sony (NYSE:SNE) less likely to rush into the program given their dedication to proprietary skins and software on their products.
 
All in all, Android fans will be sad to see the Nexus brand come to an end. However, the core tenets of what made Nexus devices so beloved will be preserved and given a bigger push to customers. And if that proves to decrease manufacturer skins, bloatware, and fragmentation throughout the Android platform, then Nexus will not have died in vain.

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