A while back, we learned from Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, that the Nexus One was a successful one-shot experiment. Which when translated means: we’re going back to making only software. Now, however, we’re once again hearing rumours of a Nexus Two.
We’ll probably not get one next month, but I now believe we will get one eventually. For two reasons.
My current homescreen.
The first reason is that, as an OS maker with an increasingly popular offering, slated (get it?) to soon appear on tablets and televisions, Google will occasionally need updated hardware to internally develop and test for. This was the case with the G1, it’s the case with the N1, and it will be the case with the N2. Probably come Android 3.0 this fall.
The second reason is related to so-called Android “skins”. I’m preparing a larger article on Android skins and the scourge they represent, suffice to say, there’s no such thing as “just an Android skin”.
The point is, there’s a reason for Apples success. It’s the holistic approach to a unified, singularly consistent and polished experience.
Since I bought an HTC Desire, I got some serious time with HTC Sense. Enough for me to root my phone and install a stock Froyo ROM in disgust. Sense may be polished, but it’s not consistent, user-friendly or thought through in the way the N1 is. And I can say that with some confidence as the ROM I’ve installed is pretty much the N1 experience.
So, Google gets it. Apple gets it. Apparently, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson don’t get it. These dinosaurs clearly have OS envy, which makes them unlikely to discontinue their misguided reskinning efforts in favor of Google Experience phones. Which is why — in efforts to stall this fragmentation — Google will have to lead the Android 3 charge with new hardware that demonstrates what Android is at its best.
The bottomline is, Android is facing a serious challenge with the fragmentation. Android is not just an application platform, it’s an experience, and right now Android vendors are showing a surprising incompetence by diluting this.
There’s no doubt Androids success is its openness, and the abillity for Motorola to feel like they own what’s on their phones. But this very openness is what allows them to bundle an uninstallable demo of Need For Speed Shift on the Droid X, or HTC to switch out the stock Contacts app with one that misses the point entirely. Android is a great operating system, make no mistake, and Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Sky Map and all the other fantastic Android apps will run fine on phones riddled with “Moto Blur”, “HTC Sense” or “Samsung TouchWiz”. But the Android experience, the one that has a shot at surpassing the iPhone experience, is riddled with holes. Which is why, if 3rd party vendors can’t make proper Android phones — and I’d argue we have only the Nexus One and the Motorola DROID as proper Android phones — Google will have to do it themselves.