Google could be launching a host of Nexus devices in 4Q12

In a bid to propagate Android devices even further into the market, Google is preparing to launch a range of Nexus devices with various hardware partners in the final quarter of the year, according to a leaked memo from Japanese operator NTT Docomo.

The memo, discovered by Japanese website Android Noodles, reveals the names of handsets that the operator will launch in the winter period of 2012. Among them are the Sony Xperia Nexus, the LG Optimus Nexus and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus II.

Google began shipping Nexus phones more than two and a half years ago with the Nexus One, which was manufactured by HTC and released in January 2010. According to Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile and digital content at Google, Nexus phones are designed to give users “a pure Google experience and access to the latest Android updates.”

However, despite apparently teaming up with the web giant to develop “Android experience”, Google’s hardware partners may harbour concerns about the direction that the firm is moving in, particularly having recently completed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

According to Tony Cripps, principal analyst in Ovum Telecoms’ devices and platforms group, Google ramping up its own branding around hardware has stoked a debate among its OEM partners. Now that it owns Motorola Mobility, it could end up launching Android devices with the newest versions of the OS earlier than its partners can.

“If you are Samsung or HTC or ZTE, LG or others who have staked an awful lot on using Android, you would also be very aware of the fact that you’re really helping Google with its own go-to-market strategy and with its own business strategy, as much as you’re giving yourself a platform that is able to sell a large number of handsets,” he explained.

“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword because Google, in some respects, uses hardware manufacturers as a route-to-market for its own business. How the hardware players feel about the software situation is a different issue, and some of them are definitely weighing up options, Samsung in particular.”

Samsung has invested into its own software platform, Bada, while Intel’s Tizen and Mozilla’s B2G are two other operating systems in development that operators and hardware manufacturers are hoping will dilute Google’s control of this space, but Cripps warned that getting a new OS off the ground is no easy task.

“It takes a colossal investment and there’s a huge risk involved. It often proves very complex from what we’ve seen in the past, and most of those who have tried to develop their own mobile OS and ecosystem have eventually stopped.”

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