Report: Google in talks to build its own phone

Such a move might be a win for Android purists, but potentially anger other hardware partners.

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Credit: Florence Ion

Google might just go all-in and build its own smartphone.

According to The Information, Google is having internal discussions about this very idea. It wouldn’t be a dramatic leap for this to happen: Google already builds its own hardware with the Chromebook Pixel and the new Pixel C tablet.

With the Nexus line, by comparison, Google teams up with another hardware maker, ensuring that it spread the love with various OEMs. 

This latest rumor mirrors a recent report that Google is in talks to design its own processor. According to the article, the concept of building its own phone is very much an internal debate instead of a finalized strategy. That’s probably because going this route would be fraught with consequences for the company’s relationships with other hardware partners.

For example, Samsung would now find Google competing with them more rigorously. The closest real-world analogy is to Microsoft’s Surface line—while it’s a profitable business, the Redmond company has had to massage its connection with other PC makers.

The story behind the story: Google doesn’t have all that much control over Android. Oh it’s supposed to be that way, as Google likes to tout Android as “open” for everyone. But that’s bitten the company in many ways as hardware makers are free to customize the operating system and replace or de-emphasize Google services, which hits the company’s revenue stream. Building its own line of phones could enable Google to get stock Android in more hands, and punch a major dent into Android’s fragmentation. It may also be a ploy to build a very low-cost phone to serve Android One markets, where that program has been less successful than Google hoped.

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