To roll out sub-$100 phones in India with Micromax, Karbonn and Spice

Online search giant Google, which controls the Android operating system, announced on Thursday a partnership with three local smartphone makers that will see the roll-out of sub-$100 phones in India. At its annual developer conference in San Francisco, the company announced the launch of ‘Android One’ a programme that will allow Micromax, Karbonn and Spice to roll out phones more quickly and cheaply than ever before, while reducing the problem of software fragmentation.

“Our partners will launch an initial range of sub-$100 Android One smartphones starting in India this fall, with more countries to follow. We’ve long wondered what potential could be unleashed if people everywhere had access to the latest technology and the world's information. It's time to find out,” Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps at Google, wrote in a blog post.

Under the new programme, Google will work with partners on a comprehensive solution—which includes hardware reference platforms—to address the mobile computing needs of those in emerging markets.

“Android One will provide smartphones that are high quality, affordable and come with reasonable data plans,” Mr. Pichai said.

The Android One initiative sets out to work with smartphone makers and others in the “ecosystem” to pool resources and standardize hardware platforms to provide “turnkey solutions” for making handsets. “There are many people — billions of people, in fact — who still don’t have access to a smartphone,” he said. “We want to change that,” he added. Like Nexus and Google Play Edition products, Android One smartphones will get automatic software updates from Google. This, according to analysts, will help reduce the problem of software fragmentation in the Indian market.

Many Android phones sold here are often on different versions of the smartphone operating system as mobile manufacturers don’t always provision for updates while rolling out the product.

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