Google's Android One program will set minimum standards for bargain-basement smartphones

For every HTC and Samsung, there are tens of Android hardware makers who have to redesign their smartphones to hit a certain low price. This is especially true in the developing world, where keeping the cost down means a lot of effort is spent tweaking devices -- something that Google feels is a waste of time. That's why it's launching Android One, a program where Mountain View's engineers will design cost-conscious hardware, and other companies will simply manufacture it. There are plenty of fringe benefits, but the biggest one is that Google will be able to dictate a minimum set of standards for forthcoming Android handsets.

Since the company is targeting the developing world, Google is initially teaming up with Indian smartphone makers like Karbonn and Spice. In an example presented on stage, Sundar Pichai talked about a Micromax Android One device with dual-SIM and SD card slots, a 4.5-inch display and FM radio priced at just $100. As well as that, these phones will get the same preferential treatment as the Nexus and Google Play ranges when it comes to automatic software updates. Is this, then, the much-rumored Android Silver program? Possibly, but given that it's going to be aimed toward the bottom end of the Android world, it seems like the notion that Silver would kill off the Nexus line won't come true today.