Google is set to start marketing a Google-branded smartphone, distinct from the current Nexus line, by the end of 2016, according to a report from a respected national UK newspaper.
The Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) device would be different from the Nexus phones that Google is currently marketing and the Ara modular phone the company is developing, according to a report by The Telegraph, which cited an unidentified senior source at the company.
The idea behind the Ara project is to provide a frame containing CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display, with standard connectors that will allow third-party manufacturers to create pluggable modules for any number of possible purposes.
As for Nexus phones, the specifications for those devices are determined largely by Google's OEM partners. Google has little control over how those phones perform. Nor does it have much control over when its OEM partners roll out updates to the Android operating system. Furthermore, Google's OEM partners tend to load the phones with apps that compete with Google Android services.
The design and functionality of the new Google phone(s) would be specified by Google. The company would presumably be able to optimize operating efficiency, control OS updates and reduce competition with competing apps.
The Android market is by nature more fragmented than the iOS market, but there is some concern that the Android market could be fragmenting too much. Google having its own phone would give it a platform to provide a baseline guide for -- if not the ability to exert outright control over -- the progress of its own operating system.
A branded phone would also provide the company more direct participation in mobile search, a growth market that is one of the current catalysts in the mobile market's latest transformation, including the planned sale of Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)'s core business, which has the potential to substantially strengthen the mobile search operations of whichever company ends up owning it. (See Verizon Bids $3B for Yahoo – WSJ Report.)
— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading