The real reason Google gave up on the Android One program
When Google announced the Android One Program a couple years ago, it had big promises — bring the Nexus experience to the masses. If we have more sub-$100 smartphones with the latest Android OS, more people will flock and switch from feature-phones to smartphones. The latest Android updates will now be available to select budget devices, a feature only available to flagship and Nexus phones.
Google launched the Android One program in the Philippines last February 2015 with two local smartphone brands in tow — Cherry Mobile One and the MyPhone Uno. This meant the two devices will have guaranteed updates from Google for two years (the reason why the Cherry Mobile One is getting an Android 7.1.1 Nougat update).
The initial release was a good start. Demand was there. Cherry Mobile and MyPhone’s participation was well-received.
However, there were no new Android One phones released after then (the last one was the Cherry Mobile One G1 in August 2015), at least in the Philippines. The reasons were unclear, until now after we talked with the partner brands. As it turns out, Google did not have the
budget resources to continue the program as it is. The Android One program required resources, a development team that will focus on providing updates and testing each single device that’s part of the program. Growing the list of devices would also mean growing the team of engineers that would ensure regular updates for at least 2 years.
Since Google’s revenue model hinges on the ads that are shown on these Android One devices, perhaps the volume of units released was not enough to justify putting additional resources in the program.
When discontinuation of the program was eventually revealed, some brand partners offered to tackle the problem of ensuring regular updates for the foreseeable future. Google was open to the idea but it needed all Android One partner brands to agree with this setup, which didn’t get the nod of everyone. Eventually, the program was shelved.