Google is planning a major push to regain control of Andorid with its Silver project which will finance the development and marketing of premium smartphones.
Google is planning on ditching its Nexus smartphone program in favour of Android Silver, a major push that will see it challenge the iPhone in terms of quality while taking back some control over its mobile operating system from manufacturers.
Details about the new Silver program have been reported previously, but Amir Efrati at The Information has spoken to four people with knowledge of the project have revealed much more information about the project.
Google's Android Silver programme will reportedly see up to five smartphones launched every year in partnership with manufacturers like LG and Motorola which will adhere strictly to hardware specifications laid down by Google and will run an almost untainted version of Android in a bid to eradicate the growing issue of bloatware which manufacturers preinstall on their phones.
Manufacturers will apprently be very limited in which of their own apps they will be able to pre-install and users will be able to remove any of them.
Bankrolling smartphone development
In return, Google will effectively bankroll the development and marketing of the devices in order to show off Android at its best and in a bid to regain some semblance of control of its own software which is currently dominated by South Korean giant Samsung.
The move will reportedly see the end of the four-year-old Nexus program, though with the Silver project not likely to launch until 2015 at the earliest, we could still a final Nexus 6 product launched at Google I/O this June - though the lack of leaks and a naming clash with Blade Runner's androids could rule this possibility out.
Along with shipping with the latest version of Android, the Silver smartphones will be assured of prompt smartphone updates, will feature "premium hardware" and will be heavily promoted through networks and retailers - all funded Google.
Benefits outweigh costs
The benefits are clear for the likes HTC, Sony, LG and Motorola, who would all likely be interested in participating in the Android Silver program - though possibly not Samsung as it is too big. However the benefits for Google could be equally significant.
Android is far-and-away the most popular smartphone operating system on the market today. Four out of every five new smartphone sold run the operating system, but very few of these are running the software as Google originally envisioned.
Most major manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC and LG all heavily skin Android on their smartphones, promoting their own apps and services sometimes in place of Google's own services.
Some, such as Amazon and many white-label Chinese-built smartphones, completely fork Android and redesign the interface to make it look very little like the original software.
These devices, known as AOSP, are not officially recognised by Google and don't therefore get access to Google services like Maps, Gmail or Google Now.
The Nexus program was all about showing off Android as it was intended and it looks like Google is ready to step up its efforts to regain control of Android with the Silver program.