What the hell is going on with Android One?

Not ago long, a low-profile system called Android One appeared as if it may be just the one-two punch Android needed.

Android One, like plenty of Google initiatives, has already established an extended and winding background with a lot of turns and twists. When Android One arrived to the picture in 2014 first, it was referred to as an attempt to “make high-high quality smartphones obtainable to as many folks as you possibly can.” The concentrate was squarely on getting inexpensive phones with exceptional encounters to emerging markets – locations like Pakistan and India, where it may be “hard for folks” to “obtain practical a high-high quality smartphone,” as Search engines place it at that time.

But that has been just the beginning of Google’s Android One ambitions. 3 years later, in 2017, Search engines expanded this program with the launch of Google android One phones in areas like Japan, Taiwan, and america eventually. The business changed its explanation of your time and effort from that authentic small-scale concentrate to the very much broader eyesight of a “collaboration between Search engines and [its] companions to provide a software expertise designed by Search engines ,” with a warranty of reasonably timely continuous operating-system updates and an event that’d get rid all of the bloat and shenanigans baked into so a lot of Android products .

Sound familiar? It will. It’s simply the exact same idea we find with Google’s personal self-made Pixel phones, just scaled down a little and with other producers involved. Or, to zoom even more into Android nerdland back again, it’s incredibly much like what we utilized to observe with Google’s Nexus mobile phones numerous moons ago – where Search engines would generate other phone-makers to take care of the hardware but maintain complete control on the software, assistance, and overall user encounter itself. (In the Nexus situation, of course, the cell phones were top quality as Google gadgets. But that surface-degree distinction aside, the problem is eerily comparable almost.)

Over the last couple of years, Android You have grown a lot more mature, with a lineup of impressively decent budget-degree and midrange devices created by famous brands Nokia actually, LG, Motorola, and a small number of others. Those phones have regularly been prior to the pack with regards to the ever-important region of Google android upgrades , with post-sales assistance that puts almost every other options – including the ones that price four to five instances just as much – to shame.

Lately, even though, something strange offers been happening. The once-thriving Android One program appears to have faded into an almost forgotten footnote quietly. The pace of fresh devices turning up in the program’s digital shelves has slowed up to a trickle, and the mobile phones that are usually nevertheless alive and kickin’ within the Google android One wall space are failing to satisfy their one-period promises of quick and frequent software improvements.

Just what exactly in the global world is going on? I’m a curious creature, and I came across myself scratching my wooly man-noggin to little outcome (apart from itch satiation) attempting to number it out. THEREFORE I determined to dig just a little deeper to notice what I possibly could find. And, well…

The Google android One oddness


Let’s begin with the first entrance – the dearth of latest Android One products and the apparent insufficient attention Search engines is devoting to this program (a program that it had earlier promised to supply “major promotional dollars,” in accordance with a 2017 report ).

All you’ve gotta carry out is look from Google’s official Android One site to start to see the unavoidable indications that something  uncommon is afoot. Right beneath the top-of-web page headline promising phones which are “secure, up-to-time, and simple to use” is really a graphic displaying the Nokia 5.3 – the phone that was introduced an whole year ago , last March, and continues to be running 2019’s Google android 10 software program, nearly seven months after Google android 11’s discharge. Yeaaaaaaaaah. I’m no mathematician, but something sure doesn’t appear to add up.

And the disconnect only gets a lot more blatant from there: That primary front-and-center graphic with the Nokia 5.3 actually describes the telephone as having “the most recent Android 10 operating-system” – even though Android 10 was not “the most recent” Android edition since final September. Um, right.

Android One Website Search engines


The other “newest phones” featured on the page aren’t much better. Among the top gadgets shown on the Google android One website landing page, the Motorola One Activity, of October – in 2019 arrived at the end. It has yet to get the now-seven-month-old Android 11 update also, despite being portion of the Android One program.

Motorola, because of its part, appears to have mostly shifted from its Android 1 focus just. Confusingly, it’s continued release a devices with that certain branding within their titles – like final year’s Motorola One Fusion and Motorola One Hyper – but it’s apparently reclaimed that branding as its, without the of the Android One claims or associations.

Just what exactly about Nokia – the business that went just about all in with Android One and that I as soon as called the ” unlikely fresh Android underdog “? I reached out compared to that company’s mass media relations department multiple moments in the last week to require a conclusion on both its unprecedented failing to supply timely up-dates to its present crop of Google android One cell phones and its own sudden slowdown in brand-new Android One gadget releases, and I’ve however to get any response.

What we can say is that very first, Nokia’s had some open public struggles in the last months – with reviews final February that the business could possibly be “exploring strategic choices,” including a feasible merger or sale. (Those reports had been later on photo down , however the proven fact that such talk exists is never an excellent sign even. friday ) Just earlier this, the business’s chief item officer and something of its most notable public statistics  introduced his departure – which might or might not have any immediate connection to whatever’s heading on with all this, but once again, doesn’t assist with the perception of a business that’s adrift.

As for Google, We asked the business if there is anything it might share about whether Google android One was nevertheless considered a dynamic effort – and when so, just what was proceeding on with (the) the considerable slowdown inside new phones developing within the Android A single umbrella and (b) the apparent failing by practically  every existing Google android One device-maker to meet up its timely software program update guarantee in this most recent upgrade cycle. In reaction, a company spokesperson delivered me the next statement:


Android One is really a living plan that is growing with successful gadget launches. New mobile phones that meet up with the elevated software specifications set by Google can be part of this program in the upcoming. So when before, these devices include security protection built-into every layer, ongoing improvements, and a straightforward interface free from duplicate apps. Nowadays while we’ve nothing to announce concerning the future of the Google android One program, we shall continue steadily to use our partners to create great Android devices to advertise.

I pressed a bit more and asked if there is anything more particular that could be thought to explain the circumstance challenging still-pending Android One software program updates, some seven a few months after Google android 11’s release, along with with the recent lull in fresh Android-One-associated gadget releases – but We haven’t received any extra responses.

There is, needless to say, one flawlessly logical possible explanation to all or any of the – a narrative that ties all of the pieces jointly and definitely seems such as a sensible response to why Android You have gone from front and middle to faded and forgotten. Rev up that stunning mammal human brain of yours: It is time to discover an all-too-plausible-seeming theory.

The larger Android One image


Stay with myself for a sec, ‘result in there’s some essential context we have to think through to create the stage because of this sudsy soap-opera drama. When Android One initial expanded from its preliminary “emerging market” concentrate, y’see, the best writer on the planet – an extraordinarily handsome and humble fella – produced some astute observations about how exactly the program may be the brilliantly conceived missing item to Google’s grand Google android puzzle.

Go, move, device quoting device :


Android can remain open up and available for producers to customize because they wish – something which has been essential to the platform’s achievement since the start. Customers can pick from a number of forms and styles, as constantly, and each will offer you its own unique group of advantages. However now, phone-seekers who would like a Google-managed vessel with all the current advantages that approach provides may also possess that as a completely realized, consumer-ready option.

Google so long as same possibility using its very own self-made Pixel phone currently, needless to say – but at the proper time, Google was selling just a single high-finish (and high-priced, for that period) Pixel design. That meant nearly all phone buyers were in no way gonna obtain the Android experience Search engines clearly saw to be optimum – one that’s cohesive and simple to use, that puts complementary Google providers center and front, and that remains compelling and fresh for a protracted period of time through reliable updates.

And that is where Android One arrived to play: By supplying a “Pixel lite” type of experience at a realistic price, Google could provide its eyesight for how it needed Android to seem to a much bigger base of individuals – even though it wasn’t prepared to make its lower-priced Pixel model at that time.

To quote the best humble writer once again:


Google may have its cake and eat it, too: It might give consumers a choice for an improved overall user experience – its vision for Google android, only now within spending budget- to midrange-level parameters – whilst still allowing producers to accomplish their own thing alternatively. And unlike on the high-finish of the spectrum, where every details counts and a finely tuned holistic knowledge is section of the bundle, letting third-party phone-manufacturers retain some quantity of branding and handle of the lower-cost devices is really a compromise Google are able to make.

So what’s transformed since that time? Ding, ding, ding! You have it: Google started producing its affordable Google android phone using its ideal software set up and self-managed, super-speedy software program updates. That’s just what the Pixel “a” collection is focused on, and with a cost of 350 bucks, it brings exactly the same optimized expertise we first noticed in the high-end Pixel right into a much more affordable type. It  is usually the “Pixel lite,” without the of the asterisks Google android One involves compared.

With Google selling its completely self-controlled Pixel phone for 350 smackeroos, then, what cause does it certainly have left to, care about Android 1 in the way this once did truly? The complete reason Android One initially benefitted Google is manufactured mostly redundant and unwanted by the Pixel “a” line’s existence. Generally, an Android One mobile phone is really a watered-down, lesser edition of a Pixel “a” device, and it’s really typically sold for quite darn near to the same cost (sometimes a lot more).

Once you combine that reality with the shifting Android scenery – what we discussed a minute back with Nokia coupled with LG’s potentially fatal current struggles , one-period Android One companion HTC’s increased irrelevance, and having less any real inspiration for an already-successful-on-its-own phone-maker like Samsung to take part in this sort of energy – it kinda is practical that Android You might start to fizzle, does it not?

I mean, consider: The program’s most prominent gamers are all having their very own issues, and Search engines simultaneously today has its fully self-controlled item to assist the program’s original objective a lot more effectively. It furthermore has the ultra-low-end-concentrated Android Move program to handle the super-affordable, sub-$200 domain that the Pixel range doesn’t (yet) cover. Actually, it’s no question the Android One guarantee and everything around it appear mainly out of mind.

And you know very well what? This is reading between your lines admittedly, but if you look back again at Google’s statement about them, it appears almost deliberately worded in order to avoid stating anything substantial concerning the program’s long-expression fate. Yes, it says that Google android One is really a “living system that is growing” – but look carefully at that last series (the emphasis right here being mine):


While we’ve nothing at all to announce concerning the future of the Android One plan nowadays , we shall continue to use our companions to bring great Android products to advertise .

Nothing to announce concerning the program’s potential future nowadays ? That certain isn’t exactly like saying “The program isn’t going anyplace, bucko!” And continuing to utilize partners to create great Android gadgets to market? Note having less a reference to Android One, specifically, within that proposition.

When I wrote around Android One’s possible back 2017, I noted the way the work could fill the then-glaring void of an optimal Google encounter within Android at the sub-flagship cost range. As I mentioned at that time:


Google may not desire to invest the sources in developing its devices at every degree of the Android cost spectrum. Developing a comprehensive type of products will be costly, for just one, and it’d danger alienating and irritating third-party manufacturers a lot more than it (possibly) already has. For the present time, at least, this may be a clever solution to achieve a good-enough-for-the-affordable-realm goal whilst getting just involved good enough to keep critical core standards.

Well, guess what? We are here, four years afterwards – and Google has had that ambitious leap in to the affordable Android cell phone market. It provides invested the assets in developing its devices at cheap points, and by nearly all counts, the initial Pixel “a”-line phones possess marketed quite well , fairly speaking.

Google is probably not ready to draw the plug on Google android One yet, but looking at all of the variables surrounding the constant state of the program, it’s hard never to question if the clock has already been ticking – and, in a single way or another, whether it’s only a matter of period before seconds run out.

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