[Op-Ed]Rumored new Nexus program full of question marks and probably bad news for Verizon customers

Today Androidandme announced details of the rumored new Nexus program.  It’s a fairly massive shift from how Nexus phones have been done in years past.

Here are the highlights:
1) In November Google will announce the new LG Optimus G Nexus alongside Android 4.2 (which might be another version of Jelly Bean or possibly Key Lime Pie).
2) Any manufacturer would be allowed to produce a Nexus device as long as they follow guidelines set by Google.  These guidelines include specific hardware and storage requirements.
3) Manufacturers would be allowed to include custom skins that would be managed through a new customization center.  This appears to be Google’s version of a theme manager.

All in all, pretty exciting stuff, right?

The idea of multiple Nexus phones is an Android lover’s dream.  The LG Optimus G is a flagship product in every sense of the word.  Will HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Sony try to one up LG and produce their own phones through the Nexus program?  I don’t know the answer, but I’m eager to find out.

Total Nexus Overload!

I generally detest OEM skins, but as long as they are basically a theme and easily disabled they’re fine.  Different skin options could actually be a cool feature depending on how the customization center is implemented.

One critical area that isn’t addressed in the report is whether or not Google will require un-encrypted boot loaders to participate in the Nexus program.  Google needs to realize this is the single most important reason that people buy Nexus phones and needs to be a requirement.  The un-encrypted boot loader allows it to be unlocked so the user can load any custom ROM and kernel combination they select.  If the boot loader is encrypted the boot loader can’t be unlocked so the user is not able to load custom kernels.  It is still possible to load custom ROMS through various XDA developed workarounds, but loading a ROM in this manner without the intended kernel has distinct limitations.  A Nexus phone is supposed to be the embodiment of Android’s open source philosophy and coming with an encrypted boot loader would defeat the whole purpose.

It seems logical to conclude that the new Nexus phone(s) will be unlocked GSM units not tied to a specific carrier and sold through the Google Play Store.  This is probably bad news for Verizon customers.  Right now no modem exists that supports all the GSM and LTE bands.  Even Apple was forced to make different versions of the iPhone 5 in order to cover all the carriers.  Considering the way Verizon botched the Galaxy Nexus launch and its subsequent updates, it’s not far fetched to imagine them being excluded this year.

Once again Google has stuck to its open source roots and the end result is very exciting for users.  As long as Nexus phones are required to have state of the art hardware, stock android, and unlocked boot loaders everyone wins.  As a Verizon customer I just hope not to get left out of the fun.  November can’t get here soon enough!

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