Big news:

Google is planning to give more than one manufacture early access to Android builds, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited “one person familiar with the matter.” This breaks Google’s current tradition of giving only one manufacture an early look at the latest version of the OS to help build a Google-branded Nexus device, which it has done three times in the past. The report said this would give Google the ability to have up to five pure Google devices available— starting with Android 5.0, codenamed “Jelly Bean.”

Even better, the report claimed that the five Nexus devices would be available by Thanksgiving of this year. That is just in time for the holiday season, which can really juice sales. The five devices will sell directly through the Google Play store. Currently, Google sells the Galaxy Nexus directly on its website for only $399, and it is available at Sprint and Verizon in the United States.

Google first introduced its flagship line of handsets with the introduction of the Nexus One at the beginning of 2010 through a partnership with HTC, and then it announced the Nexus S at the end of

2010 through a partnership with Samsung. Most recently, Google paired with Samsung for the Galaxy Nexus, which was the first device to feature Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Many Android enthusiasts loved these flagship Android devices—thanks to Google’s support with updates and a pure Android experience (absence of any custom OEM skins).

Looking at Android’s distribution chart, almost 65 percent of Android users are still on Gingerbread. That is a whole version behind. As for how many are on Ice Cream Sandwich…the numbers are grim. Roughly 5 percent of Android users are now using the new OS, which rolled out to the market at the end 2011. Slow update distribution could be blamed on the carriers, but it has always been a downfall of Android. The revamped Nexus program could definitely change things. Read after the break for more details.

Of course, Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola in 2011 caused many pundits to worry about Google potentially favoring the manufacture over others in its Nexus program. Today’s report proves that is obviously not the case.

Furthermore, the revamped Nexus program does not seem to only apply to handsets, because tablets were also mentioned in The Wall Street Journal’s report. While details were scant, the publication claimed that Google hopes it will revamp Android tablet sales. A few months ago, the publication also reported that Google plans to open an online tablet store to compete with Apple’s iPad, which currently has a definite hold on the market.

We are sure to hear a ton more about Google’s Nexus plans at this year’s I/O conference. You bet we will be at the conference in full force and covering any announcements that come out of the Mountain View bunch. In the mean time, we reached out to Google’s PR department in an attempt to learn more about today’s rumors.