Rumor: Google to replace Nexus phones with 'Android Silver' program

There were whispers last week that Google might phase out its Nexus tablets. We haven't seen confirmation of that yet, but according to The Verge, new evidence indicates that the days of Nexus phones are numbered. Google apparently intends to scrap its homebrewed handsets in favor of a program called Android Silver.

Android Silver offerings, The Verge suggests, will be akin to the Google Play variants of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4. In other words, they won't be branded as Google devices, but they will run an uncluttered version of Android—one hopefully free of vendor-specific bloatware.

The Verge adds that Google will spend up to a billion bucks to promote Android Silver devices, "essentially subsidizing the development and marketing costs for its hardware partners." That should give those firms an incentive to participate, even if they lose control over software customizations. LG and Motorola are said to be the "likeliest" to join the program, with the first devices expected as early as next year.

In my book, anything that can reduce the clutter and fragmentation in the Android world is a good thing. I reviewed the non-Google Play version of the Galaxy S4 last year, and Samsung's latest TouchWiz interface left me pretty underwhelmed. I hope Android Silver will push device makers to spend more money on hardware R&D and less on redundant software.

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