updated 12:35 pm EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Program launches in India now, spreads worldwide before end of year
At today's Google I/O conference keynote, Google's Senior Vice President of Android announced a new company initiative for emerging markets called "Android One." The new program invokes a vendor qualification process, making sure that prospective low-cost Android smartphone vendors meet unspecified performance criteria. Additionally, the process enforces some rules for builders, including the use of stock Android on the devices.
The first device to be released will be a MicroMax-produced dual-core phone. Supporting dual-SIM chips and support for 3G data, the 4.5-inch device will be available before the end of the fall for less than $100 in India. The program, and devices produced by it, will be available worldwide later in the year.
The program is intended to provide "high-quality, affordable smartphones" for "the next billion" smartphone users, a reference to developing markets. Android One addresses concerns with Android devices from fringe vendors, and imposes some level of control, such as the stock Android requirement. Apps from Google Play are required to auto-install, as well as auto-update from vendors who use the Android One program.