Google's Android One program had good intention behind it: offer standardized, quality devices for low prices in emerging markets. Unfortunately, that plan hasn't been terribly successful by most reports. But, Google is hoping to give the program a boost by allowing manufacturers more freedom in many aspects of building the devices.
According to the Wall Street Journal
, Google will no longer be only allowing components from approved vendors, but will allow OEMs to "choose from a greater variety of each component" and can buy parts from their own vendors. Additionally, manufacturers will be able to have more freedom in pricing and features on the devices. WSJ
says that one Indian OEM exec said that the ultimate conclusion of the changes is that there will be "little difference" between Android One and just producing any old Android device.
Google has apparently also changed some of the language regarding Android One software updates to say that instead of updates coming directly from Google, they will come from manufacturing partners, who will provide updates "as soon as possible." The changes are all reportedly because manufacturers complained that they couldn't differentiate devices from each other in the program.
So, it all ends up sounding like Google is essentially killing everything that made the Android One program interesting in the first place. It's unclear exactly what the branding will mean if there is no standardized set of features, hardware, pricing, or software update policies. Maybe it will just mean that Google can guarantee the devices have Google apps and the Play Store on them.