After a few years of working with partners on Nexus brand devices, Google may finally be ready to release a handset under its own name – and soon.
According to a report from The Telegraph, the move would give Google “more control over design, manufacturing and software,” allowing it to lock down the future of its search engine and app store on Android devices and more regularly roll out software and security updates for its devices.
Google could release its branded device by the end of this year, The Telegraph reported.
The report follows comments from Google head Sundar Pichai at Code Conference 2016 in early June noting Google was planning to “invest more effort” in its Nexus devices. The news also comes on the heels of the return of former Motorola hardware chief Rick Osterloh to Google as Senior Vice President of the latter’s new hardware division.
The release of its own device would give Google a new tool in its battle against fragmentation, which has flourished on the Android operating system due to its open source nature.
As of May, only 7.5 percent of Android users were on the latest version of its operating system, known as Marshmallow. About a quarter of users were still on OS versions dating from 2012 or earlier. By contrast, Apple, which has end-to-end control of its device ecosystem, reported that 84 percent of users were running the latest version of iOS.
A recent report from Bloomberg indicated Google has been working with U.S. wireless carriers and manufacturers to speed the roll out of software and security updates on the myriad of Android devices, but the release of its own device would put Google in the drivers seat.
The shift would also help Google secure the future of its search and app store features, which have recently come under fire in a series of investigations in Europe and Russia.
In May, the European Commission found the tech giant abused its dominant market position and violated of European Union anti-trust rules by mandating the pre-installation of certain apps and its search engine on Android devices. Google is reportedly facing a fine of up to $3.4 billion in that case.
That finding came on the heels of a Russian court ruling to the same effect and Microsoft’s decision to replace Google’s search engine with that of competitor Yandex as the default on Windows 10 devices in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Turkey and several other countries in the region.