Motorola isn’t necessarily taking responsibility for all future Nexus hardware, Google has insisted, with the door left open for HTC, Samsung and other Android licensees to still grab the lead on hero devices. Speaking on the investor call for the Motorola acquisition, Google said that “there’s no change in how we’re running Android” and that part of that will be the Nexus project where companies can bid to work closely with Android engineers on a Google-branded product. Since Motorola will be operated as a separate company, “they will be part of that bidding process” but not necessarily a lock-in.
“We have this lead device strategy, that strategy has worked quite well to help focus the team. What we do is select, around Christmas time each year, a manufacturer that we work very closely with to release a device in that timeframe, and that includes also some essential companies and all the components that go into the device. And essentially all the teams huddle together in one building, they jointly work and these development efforts go on for 9-12 months, and ultimately at the holiday season or right before it the devices pop out that are based on this effort” Andy Rubin, Google
Google will have a difficult path to walk, in trying to use its acquisition to the fullest while also keep other licensees happy. HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson have all – publicly, at least – been positive about the Motorola deal, though focused predominantly on the value of the patent portfolio that will come with it. The prospect of facing a boosted Motorola with the inside track on Android development is something they’re likely less enthused about.
Motorola had already been connected with the Nexus project, in rumors at least, as the potential partner for a Nexus tablet. The company was first to market with the XOOM, and with Honeycomb struggling to find its feet against the iPad, Google is believed to be looking at benchmark hardware to do for slates what the Nexus One and Nexus S did for Android phones. However, given the roughly 12 month timescale Rubin was talking about, the OEMs involved in whatever Nexus devices are next to market will have already been decided on, back in December 2010.