So what does Google's acquisition of Motorola for $12.5 billion mean for Android's Nexus program? (For those new to the platform, that's Google's yearly "Pure Google" phone -- basically a developer-level phone that's also refined enough for consumer purchase.) Will the next Nexus be from Motorola? Will they all be from Motorola from here on out. (The first two were the Nexus One from HTC and Nexus S from Samsung.)

Android's Andy Rubin did give a little insight into the process, and how it'll work going forward.

Basically, hardware manufacturers bid to become the platform for that year, then work closely with Google for the development of their Nexus device before releasing it late in the year. And that's not going to change, even with this acquisition. One of the biggest points to remember is that the Motorola end will continue to be run as a separate business. That means it'll have to go through the same Nexus process it's presumably been going through, just like everyone else.

Here's what Rubin had to say on the matter:

We have this strategy where we have this Nexus program, and we have this lead device strategy. That strategy has worked quite well to help focus the team.

What we do is that we select each -- around Christmastime of each year -- we select a manufacturer that we work very closely with to release a device in that time frame. That includes, also, semiconductor companies and all of the components that go in the device.

Essentially the teams huddle together in one building. They jointly work in these development efforts -- they go on for nine to 12 months. And ultimately at the holiday season, or right before it, devices pop out that are based on this effort.

We don't expect that to change at all. The acquisition is going to be run as a separate business. They will be part of that bidding process, and part of that lead development process. And obviously Android remains open to other partners to use as they are today.

And, no, he didn't say who's got this year's Nexus phone. Hang in there, folks.


Reader comments

Motorola won't have exclusive on Nexus devices, Andy Rubin says


I really liked the Q9 a great deal. A Nexus class device like that, bigger screen (touch of course), great keyboard, good battery life, and a really good speakerphone would seriously be on my radar. Yes, I have a radar.

It's good to see they aren't going to be alienating their partners. Personally I'm more excited for a Google TV/Sage TV set top DVR then a Motorola Nexus phone.

I believe this is a vision Google shares. They are just as interested in Moto's set-up division as the patents. Opens up partnerships with Cable and maybe IPTV providers. I would rather see Moto/Google/Verizon Fios or AT&T Uverse partnership then Cisco/Microsoft.

This deal is more about the patents lawsuits and protection for Google and Android. It's about cell phones mainly.

It will be interesting to see who gets the Nexus phone this year and quite fitting if its not Motorola. If they weren't already selected its too late in the development cycle to change manufacturers at this point. I'd put my Money on HTC

The good news is that if it is HTC, there will be no SENSE with it and that is a godsend. I hope it's Moto though. Would be nice to have a big screen and an even thinner phone with a slight out keyboard. That would do it for me (especially if it's a world phone).

"We don't expect that to change at all. The acquisition is going to be run as a separate business. They will be part of that bidding process, and part of that lead development process. And obviously Android remains open to other partners to use as they are today."

Wow. I just smell a lot of BS in that statement. They are going to have their own satellite company bid for work that they themselves award? LOL. Just hand out the bid protest sheets to the other companies right now. They are probably ready to fill them out. Anyone who is familiar with the contract bid process knows what I'm talking about. As a lover of Android, I really hope this isn't going to be as bad as it looks.

Why's that such a hard thing to believe? It's how you end up with non-Samsung processors in Samsung products. It's run like a separate entity, too.

While I can't fathom the true motivations of this move or how things will shake out eventually, I too smell a lot of BS in these statements. PR has a smell like fresh paint. The room looks finished but you can tell it was just painted to sell you.

When Zuffa (UFC's parent) bought Strikeforce, they said "Oh no it's going to be this totally separate thing. Same ownership but totally separate operations. Business as usual." Everybody could smell the BS but that's the line they sold. Aaand then they incorporated and demoted its boss (Coker). Aaand then they yanked one of its best fighters (Diaz) over to the UFC. Aaaand then they "fired" its top champ (Overeem) and are now negotiating to bring him into UFC. All of the business as usual BS was probably for the benefit of third parties like Showtime, with whom Strikeforce has a contract with some time left on it and who would not want to see Strikeforce gutted. But you could smell that Zuffa/UFC were full of it, not that merging them will be necessarily a bad thing. It's just the usual PR game because words matter, and if you make public statements of intent, people can't really call you on them. Meanwhile you do what you want to do behind the scenes.

This smells like the usual PR game too. "No no, we're going to be separate." I don't buy it. I mean, I buy that they will have separate operations, but don't tell me that Motorola will not now be their in-house hardware maker and dance to Google's tune and get privileged/advanced information. I don't know whether that's necessarily a bad thing, but it's going to have implications on the ecosystem. It's not going to be a level playing field, and I think a level playing field amongst hardware manufacturers is what has allowed Android to skyrocket. It's what gives us good variety and options.

I think the PR statements of the other major makers are also BS, just for appearances. They're re-strategizing starting right now. I hope it does not mean less emphasis on Android on their part or attempts at developing their own operating systems.

I am going to use one company's recent bogus PR treatment of an acquisition scenario as an example how how PR works in situations like this. So yes, really. We can both wait a couple years and see.

So they bought them just for the patents? That's kind of disappointing. I was hoping for a line of pure Android phones, but they say thy aren't changing anything.

They didn't say they aren't changing anything.
You misread that. The nexus program will continue as before. But moto will be given marching orders by google.

Here's what I don't understand. Let's take the rumored Nexus Prime as an example....

With all of the rumors that the Prime is coming out in Q4 of this year, this would mean that the manufacturer was selected sometime last year, no? If so, then why so much speculation and no hard facts about the device?? Do they keep the selection process a secret?

Aside from disclosing how manufacturer partners are selected each year for the Nexus phones, this was a very sterilized and neutral statement.

So it doesn't mean that Motorola will make the next Nexus device and it doesn't rule it out either. It doesn't say all Motorola phones will be pure android devices, but it also doesn't say that Motorola will only produce phones with Blur.

Basically Rubin didn't confirm or deny anything so we will have to wait and see how they handle their new toy.

I wish Google would provide service and avoid all this Verizon/AT&T "unlimited" data plans that restrict my XOOM & DroidX tether love.

Hmm, Motorola Nexus Prime with stock Android Ice Cream Sandwich on a data only plan with Google Voice and integrated Voip on G-Mobile?


I for one am looking forward to seeing what new phones Moto produces following this. And if it does turn out that the Nexus Prime is a Moto, then that decision was made long before purchasing the company.

Think about this. What better way to "guide" the other Android manufacturers then by controlling one. Best way to promote pure Google experience outside of the low end models and the Nexus program is to put out mid-level and high end Motorola phones without "Blur" or any other skin. I think that is what we will see in the future from Motorola Android products. It sends a message to the others without forcing it on them. Some consumers will go for the pure experience while others will be attracted to the innovation that HTC brings with their Sense skin. To the lesser accepted "skins" like Samsung's Touchwiz, it will make them either improve it or scrap it.

Again, everybody is quick to kill off Blur. Who knows if Google ends up making Blur (hopefully a leaner version of it) the new vanilla Android.

All I want to know is:

Is the Prime still headed for VZW this year?

Who is making it/What are the specs?