The wonder of the 'pure Android experience.' Diehard fans of Google talk a lot about this 'experience' like it is a gift from the heavens or like a virgin, that must be treated with reverence, excitement and with great anticipation. I think the loyal Nexus fans would certainly stack up well against the iPhone mob – for like them, there is simply nothing better than a Nexus device and you will not be able to persuade their minds in to thinking anything less. I am not saying this is a bad or unhealthy thing – I am just making a point that the pure Android experience on a Nexus device is something very special to many people. Having a Nexus device entitles you to some benefits that other devices simply do not offer:
– One is no manufacturers' 'skin' or User Interface over the Android OS…you get to experience what Google and its programmers intended. This usually means a fast and smooth interface with no lag here.
– The second great advantage about a Nexus device is that you are the very first to receive an operating system upgrade, not only within the major update (Jelly Bean) but also between the major updates (Jelly Bean to KitKat). This can be accomplished because there is no manufacturer's skin to worry about 'readjusting' or upgrading – simply load the new Android OS on and you are ready to go.
I often wondered what was going through Nexus owners' minds when Hugo Barra, Google's former Vice President of Android Product Management, stepped out on stage at the Google I/O Developers' conference last May and introduced, not a new Google device, but a Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition (GPe) – a device that we were already using only now it too had the pure Android experience. This is something that many users had been wanting for quite some time…and so started the Google Play edition devices and shortly after that, HTC announced that their flagship HTC One would also offer a GPe.
Soon after that, other manufacturers followed with Google Play editions – LG brought us the G Pad 8.3, Sony the Z Ultra, and then Motorola with their Moto G – only available in the U.S., unlocked, list price and only available through the Google Play Store. Only a limited number of people purchase these phones and nobody makes much money off them to be honest, so one has to ask themselves why manufacturers do it and will they continue to produce a GPe model?
Samsung and HTC will both be releasing their new flagship smartphones in the next few weeks – the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the New HTC One (or M8 if you prefer) – and we have to wonder if one or the other or both companies will grace us with a new GPe of these new devices. By now, both companies know they are no 'cash cow' for a quick buck – can HTC really afford to participate in the GPe program?
We do not know how Google is handling their Google Play Edition program – they could be offering the manufacturers an incentive to participate by bringing their best game forward and allowing Google to push out the GPe through the Google Play Store. This would certainly allow Google to get more pure Android devices out there, but it does not make financial sense for either Google or the Manufacturers – although Google doesn't always do things for windfall profits.
The GPe models were announced about a month after the original models launched last year, however, if we are to believe our reliable evleaks, there will be a New HTC One GPe model coming out. There is no word yet on a Galaxy S5 GPe, but I am betting that there will be one hitting the streets and I am betting that we will hear from evleaks before either Google or Samsung announce anything.
Why is any of this important? To the majority of customers – that have never even heard of a Google Play edition – it means absolutely nothing. But to the techno geeks that crave the real Android experience, but may not want a Nexus device, these are a Godsend – the chance to have the pure Android experience on an unlocked Galaxy S5 or the New HTC One. Whatever the reason may be, it would be nice to know for sure if a GPe will be available before hand so those that may be interested in the GPe could hold off buying a regular version. I cannot imagine that either Samsung or HTC would be worried about cannibalizing sales from the original model so announcing the GPe should not hurt sales.
There are many in the Samsung and HTC 'camps' that want the best of both worlds and the GPe gives them that chance. Certainly the Nexus 5 was no slouch in the hardware department, but when it comes to sound quality, the HTC One blows it (and everybody else) out of the water. When it comes to taking pictures, the quality of the Nexus cameras may leave a little to be desired.
What are your thoughts on the Google Play editions – are you hoping for the models from Samsung and HTC, or are you happy with the Nexus model. Do you feel that the pure Android experience should be left to only the Nexus brand or are you OK with spreading the 'love' with the Galaxy S5 and HTC One lovers as well. Please let us know on our Google+ Page…as always, we love to hear your opinions.