If Google wanted the opportunity to seize the leadership position on the hardware side of its Android platform, the Nexus 7 release date will mark the perfect opportunity. And if HTC wants to finally shed the tag of being the big loser of the platform, its One M9 release date will be its last best shot as well. Samsung, which has held the top spot on the hardware vendor side of Android for several years, has now been slipping for the past four consecutive quarters.
Android is still growing by leaps and bounds heading into the Android 5.0 Lollipop era, but the momentum is now being taken by anonymous vendors selling middling phones. Samsung is increasingly unable to convince consumers to pay more for its heavily marketed, decently specced out Galaxy phones, and so ever more sales are falling into the hands of the proverbial Brand B. That opens the door wide for the other major players, who have always taken a backseat to Samsung in terms of popularity, to seize the lead. But will the Nexus 7 or the HTC One M9 have what it takes?
The problem for the Nexus has long been that it’s too under-marketed to even exist in the minds of most consumers. The Nexus 6 launch, for instance, garnered a number of reviews proclaiming it to be the best Android phone of all time, and was promptly gobbled up by tech-savvy buyers. But it made little dent in the mainstream. Google could easily fix this by pumping more money into a marketing campaign for the Nexus 7, which the cash-rich company can afford to do. But until now, overseer Google and hardware manufacturer LG have each treated the Nexus phone like a redheaded stepchild. With the right marketing push, the Nexus 7 release date could mark a fundamental shift in Android buying patterns. One caveat here: this phone almost certainly won’t be called the “Nexus 7” as there is already a seven inch tablet with that name. Is it time for Google to dump the “Nexus” brand name entirely?
HTC faces a more challenging proposition with the One M9. It already tends to get positive reviews for its phones, and it dumps what it can into marketing campaigns. But for one reason or another, those campaigns have largely failed to resonate. The current One M8 might be the best-designed and best-looking piece of hardware in the entire Android platform, and even though consumers are aware of it, they tend to ignore it. HTC’s big problem could be its name; perhaps it’s time to drop the “HTC” from the marketing of the One M9.
In any case, both Google and HTC will have some time to chew over these decisions, even as the Android 5.0 Lollipop era begins to unfold. The One M9 release date won’t come until next spring, and the Nexus 7 release date isn’t on the docket until next fall. In the mean time, Samsung should continue to fade from Android dominance, opening the window even further. That is, unless one of the anonymous vendors currently gobbling up low end and mid range Android marketshare manages to figure out how to position itself as a respected brand name in the mean time.