Google launched the Android One platform in India in 2014, tying up with third-party vendors to offer $100 phones with clean Android and the promise of quick updates. According to The Information, Google is looking to bring Android One phones to the U.S. "before the middle of the year." The phones will be priced between $200 to $300, and will receive software updates and security patches directly from Google for "two years from sale date."
The report also mentions that Google is planning a major ad campaign for the Android One platform, which will likely be similar to what we've seen the company do for the Pixel. There's no mention of a manufacturer yet, but it looks like Google is picking LG for the first device.
Google largely failed to make a dent with Android One in India as the first wave of phones were not as powerful as their competitors, and there wasn't a lot in the way of a marketing push from the company. However, Google has learned from its mistakes, and the company has since allowed more leeway to its partners over the specs and design. The $200 to $300 price range also allows Google's partners more choice when it comes to choosing the internal hardware.
With the Nexus brand going away and the Pixel positioned at the high-end segment, Android One could be the ideal platform to fill the void in the budget category in the U.S. A decent sub-$300 device with software updates directly from Google will be a potent combination, and right now, there aren't many devices outside of the Moto G family that offer a clean Android experience and great hardware in that price segment.
Google will also be looking to the Android One platform as a way to raise brand awareness around Android itself. The company will also likely use the platform to push its own services, including the Google Assistant. Currently, Assistant is limited to the Pixels, but it is entirely possible to see it make its way to Android One handsets in the future. On that note, it looks like Huawei's decision to use Amazon Alexa in its U.S.-bound Mate 9 caused consternation between the Chinese manufacturer and Google.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.