Rumor: Google Wants Nexus 7 in Smartphone Format
There are actually two reports regarding the next Nexus products, so we'll start with DigiTimes and its typical lineup of unnamed sources. It begins by reporting the obvious: Google and Microsoft plan to extend their respective Nexus and Surface lineups with smartphones. They'll also reportedly take different routes to get this accomplished.
On the Google front, sources claim the company wants to launch smartphones based on its Nexus 7 design. Naturally we're not going to see 7-inch smartphones, but instead see more than one vendor using the Nexus brand and the latest build of Android. These manufacturers will reportedly include Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications, HTC and one other to complete the "Exclusive Five" (but not Motorola).
Android and Me is reporting something similar, and that the LG Optimus G Nexus will be one of the first in Google's multi-Nexus plan. The LG phone, along with the other Nexus devices, will ship with Android 4.2 which will reportedly be formally introduced in November at a co-event with LG. There's also talk that Andy Rubin may talk about the Nexus program at the AllThingsD: Dive into Mobile conference at the end of October (just in time for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 at that).
According to the rumor, Google will allow manufacturers to release smartphones with the Nexus brand as long as they adhere to strict standards: use Google's stock Android, secure 64 MB of memory for media streaming, and pack plenty of hardware to support Android 5.0 which is slated to launch in Fall 2013. However the Nexus program will allow manufacturers to use custom UI skins so that the phones aren't entirely identical.
Prior reports indicated that Google was taking this route because of the Motorola acquisition. Android partners were reportedly worried that Google would take preference over Motorola, and some even threatened to use their own OS or a heavily modified version of Android. To calm their fears, Google supposedly planned to offer the latest build of Android to five major partners first before anyone else. Now it appears that it's extending its Nexus branding as well instead of relying on one flagship Android product.
DigiTimes reports that this "exclusive" approach was found acceptable by brand players, indicating to them that Google planned to honor its word about not offering preferential treatment to Motorola. Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" was actually the OS named in reports earlier this year, but now Android 4.2 is just around the corner, and so far its codenane is still up in the air (starts with a "k"). The Jelly Bean build currently features an easter egg revealing a candy cane -- this obviously doesn't really fit within Google's naming scheme.
On the Microsoft front, we've already heard the rumor that it's secretly working on a Windows Phone 8 device that will be launched in the first half of 2013. The company is reportedly working with Pegatron on the Surface-branded smartphone, setting the stage for the next wave of Windows Phone 8 devices. Unlike its Surface tablets, Microsoft reportedly doesn't want to compete with partners in the smartphone space at launch.