Google and Nexus
I'm at Google IO this week. Lots of announcements today; some very interesting ones around software (Google Now in particular looks amazing and terrifying, I may write about that later). Some good stuff on hardware too, which got me thinking...
The Nexus range of handsets were a demonstration to the industry of what Google thought a phone ought to be. With such a low price point, the Nexus 7 tablet feels like a different beast: if it sells in any sort of numbers (and such a low price point must signal such an intention), it'll compete very effectively with tablet efforts from other manufacturers. It feels to me like Google has watched them fail to come up with any effective competition to the iPad and seen a threat from Amazon in the form of the Kindle Fire: repurposing Android and cutting out ad revenue. Google has, perhaps reluctantly, decided it'll have to deliver the goods itself - even if doing so makes it harder for Android licensees in the process. Better this than be locked out of tablets by Amazon at the low end and Apple at the high.
The Nexus brand is being extended in a new direction: last years Project Tungsten is now Nexus Q, a high priced home entertainment device. The Nexus Q was referred to fleetingly as hackable, but I got the sense this was more to please a crowd to whom it might otherwise mean little, and to contrast it with the closed devices of Apple, than to stimulate an ecosystem of add-ons... for the moment.
For me, the keynote felt like a drawing together of strings (tablet, home entertainment, and smartphone all tightly integrated) with a view to building a strong content business: that $25 Play Store voucher shipping with the Nexus 7 is designed to get a few Wallet accounts set up; Nexus Q is an incentive to move music to the Google ecosystem; and the Nexus 7 was presented as a content consumption device for magazines, film and TV. Is the aim to take the worlds best-distributed mobile platform and turn it into an engine for generating content revenues?