Google has gone the way of Apple with its new Pixel devices which puts an end to the six year run of the Nexus series (2010 to 2015). The new flagships cater to the general consumer instead of enthusiasts, wearing considerably heavier price tags.
While the Pixel and Pixel XL are undoubtedly marvelous creations that have captivated critics and buyers alike, the Google Nexus 6 from over two years back could have stopped them from happening.
That is if the 6.0-incher hadn’t ended up with the Nexus name and was branded as the Moto S instead. That was its original designation. It was supposed to kick off another series called Android Silver.
Much unlike Google Pixel, which has been developed completely by Google from head to toe, Android Silver was meant to bear no Google branding whatsoever. The devices involved were to be fully independent from the Mountain View in terms of hardware, but 100 percent dependent on the company for software.
In other words, Android Silver was purposed as an upgrade to the Google Play Edition program, involving a lot more OEMs than just Samsung and HTC. All of the devices under Silver would receive software and security updates at the same time directly from Google as a remedy to fragmentation in the Android ecosystem.
But the program fell through as other the project leader walked away and OEMs lost interest in sustaining Google Play Edition variants of their devices. And as a result, the Nexus program went on for two more generations and eventually spawned Pixel.
Why is this important? Well, it’s because of fragmentation. Whereas Android Silver was meant to combat the issue, it was perpetuated in the subsequent Nexus devices and doesn’t look like stopping with the Pixel duo.
When Android Marshmallow was launched for the Nexus 6P and 5X, it took quite some time before the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5 got the update, let alone flagships from other OEMs.
The same is happening now with Android Nougat and the Pixel flagships. As these Google phones make way to their successors at the end this year, the cycle will continue: they will be in their own bubble with first dibs on Android 8.0 while others wait in uncertainty.
That doesn’t seem like Android achieving parity with Apple’s uniform iOS ecosystem, apart from Google trying to emulate the iPhone in hardware and design.