News broke this week that Google may, at some point in the very near future, stop making and selling the Nexus 5.
That’s no surprise as, in keeping with the general ebb and flow of modern capitalism, existing things tend to stop getting made in favour of newer and better things all the time.
What annoys some people about this development, though, is not that the Nexus 5 is being binned and replaced. It’s that the replacement is very nearly six-inches across, diagonally speaking.
Add a bit more on to that for some plastic, and a bit more for a case, and you’ve got something akin in size to a desk diary to carry around with you, like it’s 1985 and all your appointments and contacts have to have a page each and your calendar is… an actual calendar.
At some point in the near-ish future, if you want a Nexus phone — which Google has been selling as the essential and purest Android experience for many years — you will have to buy something physically much larger than the older Nexus 5. A phone that wasn’t exactly small to start with.
And then we have the iPhone 6, for which Apple has pulled a similar stunt. Was 4 inches really too small? For some people that size was perfect – or at least a size they were comfortably used to – and now Apple’s message is: go big or go home.
Fair enough, moaning about this might make us look like out-of-touch denialists, loners afraid of change and unable to accept the fact that "phablet" proportioned phones are extremely popular with lots of people these days, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.
Someone has to speak up, else, by 2017, Google will be selling the Nexus 11.9 as its flagship model. And everyone else will probably have a similar idea.
And isn’t five inches just about perfect for most people anyway? Shouldn’t Google be aiming the Nexus line at the mass market consumer, with their normal size hands, not just the splinter faction that has to have the biggest as well as the best?
Keep it down
So why the rush to super-size the Nexus range? Is it a reaction to the arrival of the iPhone 6 Plus, with Google wanting to be seen to having an enormous flagship phone of its own?
Or is it, more likely, because bigger phones come with bigger price tags, so for each £499 Nexus 6 Google sells directly on behalf of Motorola it’s able to channel yet more cash off to the safety of its offshore bank accounts.
If it’s not as simple as wanting more upfront money Apple-style, perhaps it’s about the failure of advertising to become fully integrated in Google’s OS. We’ve been expecting Android phone prices to come down in exchange for more invasive advertising for years, but that’s not yet come to pass.
Even Android, operated by the king of internet advertising, doesn’t have much in the way of ads onboard inside the core experience.
Perhaps by releasing a Nexus with a £500 asking price, this is Google admitting that the ad-funded, or at least ad-subsidised model isn’t working?
After all, you could fit an awful lot of banner adverts and paid slots atop the search results of a phone display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution output, so it’s strange that Google’s saved ads on Android for just the odd frame inside Gmail. Maybe they just don’t work.
Perhaps the only way to make money from phones these days is to sell them for £500, then leave the advertising and penny pinching to the app developers.
So maybe that’s why the Nexus 5 is probably getting the chop. Why would you sell something cheap that can do the same job as something expensive?