Google Inc. is shifting its strategy for its Android mobile operating system, in a bid to create a united front with smartphone and tablet makers to take on rivals like Apple Inc. and prevent wireless carriers from controlling the devices.
Google plans to give multiple mobile-device makers early access to new releases of Android and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter. That is a shift from Google’s previous practice, when it joined with with only one hardware maker at a time to produce “lead devices,” before releasing the software to other device makers. Those lead devices were then sold to consumers through wireless carriers or retailers.
The expansion of direct sales marks a bid to exert more control over key features and apps that run on Android-powered phones and tablets, thus reducing the influence of wireless carriers over such devices, these people said. Wireless carriers typically handle marketing and sales of devices and thus can exert some control over the services that run on them.
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