I can't speak for nexus phones, but carriers are also playing a role. Reports are saying that Verizon specifically requested that HTC remove the SD card on the DNA from the Butterfly J(International Version of the DNA). No doubt this is because of data no longer being unlimited for a majority of users, they want people streaming from the cloud and racking up huge data amounts in order to make more money. So you get the double whammy of google wanting you to use their cloud services, and carriers wanting you to use lots of data.
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Current Devices: Nexus 5, HP 14 Chromebook (Data Enabled), Google Glass, (2013) LTE Nexus 7, Chromecast
Retired: Samsung Fascinate, Droid Charge, Galaxy Nexus, (2012) WiFi Nexus 7, Asus TF700, Nexus 4, Logitech Revue