Google to Expand Mobile-Device Partnerships

Google Inc. plans to give multiple mobile-device makers — rather than just one partner — early access to new releases of its Android mobile operating system and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter.

Google’s strategy is a shift from its previous practice, when it partnered with only one hardware maker at a time to produce seven “lead devices” that showed off the newest Android software features, before releasing the software to other device makers. The change is a bid to exert more control over the apps that run on smartphones and tablets powered by Android, thus reducing the influence of wireless carriers over such devices, these people said.

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