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Google CEO says release of Nexus devices is a balancing act

by David Needle

December 11 2012

Google CEO Larry Page says the Nexus line is about "getting innovation into the ecosystem."
Google CEO Larry Page says the Nexus line is about "getting innovation into the ecosystem."

Google’s Nexus 7 tablet has been a hit with more models expected, but Google CEO Larry Page says deciding what technology to include and keeping the company’s many Android device partners happy is a challenge.

In a rare interview, Google’s CEO discussed a range of issues including its Nexus brand that started several years ago with a Google phone and expanded more recently to the Nexus 7 tablet.

Larry Page told Fortune that “a lot of complexity” goes into the decision to release a Nexus device because Google has to consider how it will impact the partners it needs to grow the Android ecosystem.

“The right way to think about it is how do we get amazing products into users' hands in the most cost-effective, highest quality way possible and to the most people. That's what we do as a business, and that's what we've done with Android,” said Page.

But he also implied Google could get more aggressive in releasing new Nexus models. The search giant has already gone beyond the initial Nexus 7, adding a 10-inch display model, the Nexus 10, released last month, that competes more directly with the iPad. 

“Part of the reason why we've done Nexus devices in the past is that we want to build an amazing device that kind of showcases what's possible on Android, gives a way for the programmers to get early builds, does a whole bunch of things that are important.”

(Note, the phrase “in the past.”) He goes on in the interview to say:

“Exactly what we do, which devices we do, what the timing is, how we release the software with them, all those things have been changing.”

Just as Microsoft decided to release its own tablet to push Windows 8 innovation forward, Google could get more aggressive with its own branded devices if it perceives its partners aren’t doing enough.

“Every day we kind of evaluate how do we help our partners out the right way, how do we produce amazing innovative devices, and how do we get those out, and how do we get that innovation into the ecosystem and into the hands of as many people as possible, and how do we keep our partners happy,” Page told Fortune. “I think we've done a pretty good job of that so far.”

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