However, it is not just the device manufacturers. It is Google killing the brand. They moved away from it when Android Market became Google Play, and they are distancing themselves even more now.
— F. Capobianco (2013) Google has killed Android (the brand)
Fabrizio’s perspective is very interesting and I think he is right. I suppose however that it wasn’t deliberate from the beginning: they started to “hide” it once the fragmentation became too rampant and they understoond there was no trying in creating a brand for something that wasn’t under a clear design vision for the final user (although, it still is for developers).
Also, I think it was an imprinting from the authors: it was a brand before, and I suppose the team felt attached to it as a consumer brand. Human dynamics must always be counted in, it’s never purely a strategic choice.
So I guess that at some point in the last 2 years they took that decision. In this way they should be free, as you’re saying as well, to create a -finally- vertically integrated offering.
However, regarding the brand strategy, in my opinion would be an error for Google to use the Google brand. Google in the mind of users DOES NOT translate to hardware, and that kind of mental image is one of the critical points of a proper brand strategy. Doing that move will diluite the Google brand for a boost in publicity in the short term that will harm the company in the long term.
To give a positive example, Chrome’s brand is quite good, even if Chromebook in that regard isn’t that fitting (another example of diluition).
My advice there would be to go for the Nexus brand, right now, empowering it and pushing it as “the hardware” thing. They still require a niche – a differentiating value proposition – to position the Nexus brand on the market.
It might also be possible for them to entirely throw the towel and keep just a behind-the-scenes control over Android (as they already do) while having other distributors to take the load of creating brands and devices (the Galaxy is growing well in this regard, for example). It wouldn’t be an overall stupid idea, because it will increase focus, even if of course there’s the fear of leaving too much control over a market that’s booming. But… revenue is what counts there, and while Apple and Samsung got it, none of the others is there and even Google’s hardware efforts as far as I know are operating with thin margin (7.5%) to push the user base.