Google plans to introduce to US its low-cost phones aimed at emerging markets

Internet giant hopes to reduce the number of its customers moving to rival iPhone by offering the latest tech and regular updates for its phones

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 January, 2017, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 5:42pm

Google wants to import one of its own creations into its home market.

The company wants to bring Android One – its three-year-old programme partnering with manufacturers to create low-cost phones for emerging markets like India – to the US, reports The Information’s Amir Efrati.

Importantly, The Information reports that those phones will come with a guarantee from Google to be updated with the latest Android updates and security fixes for two years from the sale date. Better yet, they will cost between US$200 and US$300, with the first Android One phone arriving in the US as soon as this summer.

This is a vital positioning for Google, as more and more Android users move over to the Apple iPhone.

Apple has always made a point of making sure that as many older iPhones and iPads as possible come along for the ride with each new update to the iOS operating system.

Meanwhile, Android users are often left waiting months or years for updates, if they come at all, with the carriers usually left to decide which phones get which updates, when.

It’s resulted in Android’s well-documented “fragmentation” problem, where apps that work on one phone may not work on another, given the various configurations of software and hardware among the 1.5 billion or so Android users out there. 

Google has already moved to tackle this problem at the high end of the market, with its Pixel phones — packed with the very latest Google tech, and with the promise that the search giant itself will push out software updates. It’s a small part of the larger battle to reduce fragmentation, and helps boost Android’s market perception.

Now it sounds like Google is partnering with unnamed manufacturers via Android One to start to capture the middle of the market, with a similar promise to keep its users up-to-date.

According to the report, Google will keep Android manufacturers on board by promising to help fund their phones’ marketing, so long as they comply with the plan.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.