What's the point in Google's Nexus device program these days?
I mean that literally - what is the point in it? I used to know, but now, I just don't get it. Is it a developer device? Is it a consumer item? Is it both? What day is it?
Google's only just announced the new Nexus 5 and for the first time since the Nexus One joined the party, I wasn't excited in the least. I know that puts me in the minority because the Nexus 5 section of this site was getting some serious hits in the build up to the announcement and launch, but WTF?!
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When the Nexus One came out, it was like a smartphone revelation. Quick history lesson for those who don't remember almost four years back: this was a phone for those who were dedicated. Not one for the masses. One for those who were prepared to put the time and effort in.
You didn't just pick one of these up on the high street - you had to buy direct from Google in California, get it shipped over, and if you lived in international climes pay customs taxes and then wait for the postman to bring it during an incredibly snowy January when most of them refused to step on icy driveways.
Man, that was a long wait. And the Nexus One wasn't cheap. I'm still paying it off now.
In fact, it did get a little consumer appeal through limited networks who cottoned on to its popularity and sold a few on contract.
But this remained a device for the elite. The reason was simple. This was pure Google. But now everyone's getting them. The Nexus line's lost its exclusivity. How am I supposed to feel special now, Google? HOW?
One true love
This week, a friend of mine who isn't even a tech head had the audacity to ask if I thought he should get a Nexus 5 because he'd read about it in the paper, saying: 'yeah, it looks quite cool.'
If I'd had a Nexus One nearby, I'd have smacked him around the head with it, shown him that this is a device for the chosen few, not every Joe Bloggs and sent him on his merry way.
But the fact is that the Nexus 5 is now a device for the masses. It's not solely a tinkerers' toy anymore. And that saddens me.
I'm not saying Google has made a mistake with the Nexus 5. It had to do something, go mainstream to keep control of its system, especially given Samsung's strategy seems pretty clear: become the number one Android retailer, get people used to Touchwiz, then migrate them to Tizen, which looks the same, and hope they go peacefully.
In other words, give Google a sloppy kiss while simultaneously nicking the family silver.
I'm well aware that I'll be castigated for moaning about success of a range, and I'm fine with that. This is a rant about missing the 'good old days' of smartphone use, when you had to WORK for the love.
You may say that tinkerers don't really need their own device any more. Which is probably true. Over on XDA forums you can download Frankenstein versions of any ROM under the sun and stick them on nearly any Android device you can get hold of.
There's no need to have a virgin OS when you can pretty much make one yourself any time you like.
But I miss feeling like I've got my hands on something that shows I'm a true fan, someone that cares about this technology. Even the Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 aren't that hard to get.
The Nexus 5 is a great device. And it's going to sell incredibly well, no doubt. But as for its relevance, that's not so high anymore. And the likes of the developers, those who like to have a good play, may well end up looking at some of the new operating systems, like Jolla or... whisper it... Tizen.
- Of course, some people might not think the same. Check out our findings on Google's new Nexus to make up your own mind!