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What's Next for Android: Google's New Hardware Strategy

Stocks in this article: GOOGAAPLMSFTBBRYSNEHP

Consider this: Last summer, Google was bragging that Asus was able to go from a standing start to shipping the Nexus 7 in only four months. Motorola will now have had a year. Surely, if Asus can do it in four months, Motorola has no excuse to take more than 12 months.

How would what Motorola does with Android differ from the categories listed above, "general" Android and Nexus? This comes down much to semantics, and the fact that Google needs to be sensitive to its partners.

On the one hand, Google wants Motorola to produce Nexus devices, true to Google's vision for Android. On the other hand, Google can't afford to alienate companies such as Samsung by showing special favoritism to Motorola.

So what does this mean for Motorola's Android future? Motorola could launch smartphones and tablets that are Nexus -- except in name. I expect Motorola to launch a portfolio of devices that look and smell just like Nexus, and will get software upgrades as quickly as Nexus in the future, but will not carry the name Nexus. They'll simply come up with a new name!

4. Google Itself:

This is new. Google recently launched a laptop -- the Pixel -- not through Nexus, not through Motorola, and not through some other hardware partner such as Samsung, Acer, Lenovo or HP (HPQ). It was Google itself, from headquarters -- not Chicago.

Last year, Google launched the ill-fated "Q" media player. It flopped rather badly and was effectively canceled before Google had a chance to collect any permanent customer cash for the first batch of shipments.

Where do you think the future Google glasses will be coming from? By all accounts, this initiative, too, is directed from some sort of skunk-works department at Google's headquarters.

Given all of this, why wouldn't this headquarters skunk-works department also go for the largest market of them all, Android? If Google itself can engineer TV media players and laptops, why not also smartphones and tablets?

If this is true -- which I believe it is -- then how would this "Google-only-branded" hardware differ from Nexus and Motorola, in terms of its software?

My answer: Only in name!

My theory is that whether it's the extension of the current Nexus program, whether it comes out of Motorola in Chicago, or whether it's Google's own skunk-works development from headquarters, they will all be Nexus software in practice.

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