The launch of Android One is about more than just getting Android phones into India.
The effort debuts today as phones go on sale for around $105. If it proves successful, it could be a model for how Google will approach Android smartphone development and updates both abroad and in the United States.
With Android One, Google is parterning with regional brands to build near-stock Android phones at a cost more accessible to the average Indian customer. One goal, of course, is to gain millions of converts to the Android ecosystem is by reaching a market where most have yet to buy a smartphone. The phones get software updates directly from Google, which the company hopes will avoid the fragmentation that has plagued Android in the U.S.
Google is working with regional handset makers Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek for the phones in India. HTC, Asus, Lenovo, and other larger hardware makers are now joining the effort, according to a blog post from Google's Vice President for Android, Chrome, and apps, Sundar Pichai.
He also said the phones would be "some of the first" to be updated to Android L later this year. The company is not stopping with India - Google also plans to bring its effort to Indonesia, the Philippines, south Asia, and "many more countries" in 2015.
Given the sometimes painful delays that hardware makers and carriers have placed on updates in the U.S., this could mean that $100 smartphones in the developing world could get the latest version of Android before flagship devices here.
Additionally, the tight partnership and control over Android indicates that Google is looking to change the current formula that has made the update process frustrating for consumers.
Google is rumored to be working on a project known as Android Silver, which would, similar to Android One, see the company work more closely with manufacturers and carriers, and yield more control over Android installation and updates.
The company has already taken that approach with Android Wear, as watchmakers have little leeway in how the wearable operating system looks and performs. Google is hoping the tradeoff will mean a better experience and fewer customers stuck with an old version of Android.