Google is expanding its “Android One” program for low-cost smartphones to the U.S in coming months, promising phone makers major new promotional dollars if they play by its rules, say three people briefed on the plan.
The first phone to launch in the U.S. with Google’s Android One seal of approval, backed by an ad campaign funded by Google, is expected before the middle of the year. It will be made by a phone manufacturer whose identity couldn’t be learned. It will be different from other Android phones because it will guarantee timely software updates, including security updates, for two years from sale date, one of the people said. That’s something Android often fails to do, unlike Apple. The phone is expected to be priced in the $200-$300 price range, said two of the people.