Report: Google partnering with Motorola for 5.9-inch Nexus 6 phablet

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) will release a 5.9-inch phablet later this month designed by Motorola Mobility as its latest Nexus smartphone, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said the device is codenamed "Shamu" and will have an HD screen. Google is in the process of selling its Motorola unit to Lenovo, but has always insisted there has been a strict separation between Motorola and its Android development team--so as not to upset its other Android licensees. Motorola has not made a Nexus-branded device thus far.

Google declined to comment, according to the report.

A Motorola-made Nexus phablet has been rumored for some time. Tech blog The Information reported in July that Motorola was working on a Nexus phablet with Google. And late last month the blog 9to5Google reported that the Nexus 6 would be a 5.9-inch device made by Motorola.

The largest Nexus phone Google has made so far has been the Nexus 5, with a 5-inch display. Google also partners with hardware makers to create Nexus-branded tablets; HTC has been rumored to be working with Google on the next Nexus tablet, the Nexus 9.

The new Nexus phablet would compete against Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 6 Plus, which sports a 5.5-inch display, and Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 4, which has a 5.7-inch screen. Other companies, including Huawei and ZTE, have also recently released new phablets.

In 2011, phablets accounted for 1 percent of global smartphone shipments but this year, phones with displays larger than 5 inches are expected to comprise 24 percent of the market, according to data the WSJ cited from research firm Strategy Analytics.

"The phablet wars are in full effect and vendors need any possible edge they can get," Strategy Analytics Neil Mawston told the Journal. "Having a large phone will help Google."

In the past, Google has used the Nexus program to showcase the newest version of its Android software. In this case that's Android L, which Google has said should start rolling out to more Android devices in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The head of Google's Nexus program said in late June that the company would not be abandoning the program. The comments were notable in light of rumors that Google would drop the program and replace it with a new initiative called "Android Silver." In detailed comments to ReadWrite, Google's Dave Burke declined to comment on Android Silver but made it clear that "We are still invested in Nexus."

According to an April report in The Information, Google planned to scrap its four-year-old Nexus Android device program in favor of a program called Android Silver aimed at delivering high-end smartphones attuned to Google's specifications to better compete with Apple's iPhones in the premium smartphone segment. The Silver program is reportedly scheduled to debut next year.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this 9to5Mac article

Related Articles:
Google exec: There will be a new Nexus phone this fall with release of Android L
HTC reportedly building Nexus 9 tablet with LTE for Q4 release
Report: Google to scrap Nexus device program in favor of 'Android Silver'
Google releases LG's LTE Nexus 5 with Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T support, but Verizon is MIA
Google's Page: Focus is on keeping Android partners 'happy'

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