Android phones are everywhere, but Google doesn’t have that much control over them. It doesn’t make its own hardware and outside of Nexus devices even its software is adulterated with skins and overlays. But it seems the company might be planning to start following Apple’s lead and making both hardware and software.
That could be about to change though, as The Telegraph reports that Google is in talks with mobile operators about releasing a handset of its own, according to “sources familiar with the discussions.”
Apparently the device will be released by the end of the year and is intended to give Google control over the design, software and manufacturing, to prevent Android from becoming any more fragmented.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, said “they are concerned that Android is fragmenting, that it needs to become a more controlled platform. I think they’ll seek to control it more, more like Apple.”
Of course Google is never likely to close off Android from other manufacturers, as the fact that anyone can use it is key to its popularity, but by releasing its own phone it would ensure that at least some handsets are true to its vision for the platform.
What’s less clear is where this leaves the Nexus range, but CEO Sundar Pichai recently confirmed to recode that for now the company will still support them, and indeed two new Nexus phones are expected this year.
If Google adds its own phone into the mix too then the company could have a cluttered slate of products on its hands. Of course this is all just a rumor for now, so don’t be surprised if Google is still software-only in 2017.