Google's apparently ready to greatly expand its Nexus program: the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company plans to give as many as five device OEMs early access to future versions of Android and sell those devices directly to consumers. This represents a major shift from Google's strategy over the last few years of selling one flagship device from a single OEM partner, and would mark an expansion of its recently-revived online direct-to-consumer sales channel — Google had previously sold the Nexus One unlocked through its site, but the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus were primarily sold through third-party retailers or carriers. Much as Google now sells the Galaxy Nexus unlocked, these devices would also likely be sold carrier-free and at a full retail price. Google's aiming to have these phones available for consumers by Thanksgiving, just in time for the holiday season. Unlike the current Google Play store, which only sells unlocked Galaxy Nexus phones in the US, Google's reportedly going to offer this wider portfolio in Asia and Europe as well as stateside.
This move appears to be designed to ease worries that Google's pending purchase of Motorola won't mean the OEM will get extra favor over the many other OEMs who have devoted their resources to Android. Additionally, it seems that Google's trying to get hardware OEMs to differentiate from each other based purely on the hardware and not on the various custom Android skins that cause major delays in updating the OS (and reduce functionality, in many cases). The WSJ believes that Google is also attempting to take control of its OS away from the carriers as well, noting that the company hopes to exert more influence over the apps and software on Android phones to reduce carrier interference.
This plan isn't exclusive to phones, either — Google is reportedly hoping to jump-start Android tablet sales with this new program as well, though details on that front were minimal. While this new strategy is just a rumor at this point, it's no secret that we're big fans of stock Android. Any plan that would help Google get more pure Android phones on the market sounds like a good one to us. We're reaching out to Google for comment and will update with any more details we hear about the future of the Nexus program.