Google is reportedly playing with the idea of co-developing its own mobile processor.
According to a report in The Information, Google held meetings with various hardware partners this fall and showed off some concepts it was interested in building for future versions of Android.
While Google has partnered annually with a hardware maker for its Nexus phones (there were two this year: LG and Huawei), such a step would be a new level of involvement. According to the report, much of the discussion stemmed from the company’s hope to build an “enterprise connectivity device” created almost exclusively in-house. The Pixel C appears to be a first step on that path, as a productivity-focused Android tablet designed by Google.
Google’s increased interest in hardware is likely driven by the future-looking technology the company has been dabbling with, like virtual and augmented reality. And with its Android for Work initiative, Google is trying to make a bigger push into the enterprise space. When companies buy devices in large quantities for their business they want consistency in software and timely updates—something many go to Apple to get.
For Google to offer that type of integration, it can’t farm out everything to its partners, as companies want their supplier to invest time and effort into maintaining their devices and software.
Google will need both a chipset partner and a willingness on the part of OEMs to implement the new designs. If they don’t become mandatory in all Android phones, Google might at the very least push them into its future Nexus devices, or Pixel line.
Why this matters: Over the years Google has sought to exert ever more control over the Android ecosystem. It’s not without merit—Android is still terribly fragmented, and too many carriers and hardware makers hold back on updates or new features. If Google can get some partners to agree to use its own chip, that could push Android into more businesses and give consumers a better experience.