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Google commits to more Nexus devices

by David Needle

May 13 2013

Sundar Pichai, the new head of Android at Google, shared his views on Google-branded hardware and competitors like Amazon’s Kindle Fire, just before the company’s big Google I/O developer conference which starts Wednesday.

Pichai, now Senior VP of Android, Chrome and Google Apps, took over from Android’s original leader, Andy Rubin, in March.

Asked about Google’s own hardware efforts, Pichai said to expect more branded devices, like the Nexus smartphones and tablets.

“You will see a continuation of what we have tried to do with Nexus and Chromebooks,” Pichai said in an interview with Wired. “Any hardware projects we do will be to push the ecosystem forward.”

While there has been a virtual explosion of Android devices, the ecosystem is fragmented with most smartphone owners using earlier versions of Android and companies like Facebook submerging the operating system under its own new “Home” interface.

Amazon used an early version of Android to develop its own variant of the operating system for the Kindle Fire line. Kindle Fire users go to Amazon’s own store for apps (instead of Google Play).

Pichai said there are no plans to challenge either.

“Under the rules of the license, Amazon can do that,” he said.

Keeping Android open

“In general, we at Google would love everyone to work on one version of Android, because I think it benefits everyone better. But this is not the kind of stuff we’re trying to prevent. Our focus is not on Facebook Home or Kindle Fire.”

As for Android fragmentation in general, Pichai said Google was working on ways to “handle updates better” but said more time is needed to “figure out the mechanics” of doing this in concert with all its partners.

Apple is able to more effectively keep its users on the latest version of iOS because it only has to address its own product line.

Asked later about challenges ahead Pichai said one of the big ones is to help improve the world’s end-user experience without changing the open nature of Android.

“For all your users, no matter where they are, or what phone or tablet they are buying.”

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