Google relaxing Android One requirements for hardware partners in India, emerging markets

Will a broader minimum hardware list help boost Android One sales? Not likely when there are already other options competing at the same price.

Google's low-cost Android One initiative isn't setting the world on fire so the company is revamping the program's requirements to help hardware partners differentiate their handsets.

The news comes from Wall Street Journal sources, who reported the changes on Wednesday. While the changes are for all Android One partners, Lava is already expected to launch a phone phone under the changing requirements.

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Android One in theory sounds great for Google because it reduces the number of approved components that can be used in the $100 to $150 smartphone and provides some level of similar experiences between different phones under the Android One banner.

And the program also removes one of the major pain-points for some Android users by having software updates pushed directly to phones without carrier intervention.

But the original hardware requirements with a short list of approved processors, cameras and other components make it difficult for handset makers to stand out from each other.

The new requirements will change that a little, according to the Wall Street Journal: There will be five camera sensors to choose from and Qualcomm's processors can be used in favor of those from MediaTek.

Note that in August, the Cherry Mobile One G1 phone for the Philippines launched with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset.

Unfortunately signs of an Android One struggle soon appeared after the first wave of handsets launched. Earlier this year in India, for example, only a small percentage of low-cost handsets bought by consumers were Android One phones.

That's not just because of the program's minimum hardware specs, though: It's also because there are plenty of traditional Android phones available there priced similarly.

As a result, any relaxing of Android One hardware requirements may not give Google the shot in the arm it expects from the program.

Then again, so long as customers are buying Android phones of any type -- save for those built upon the Android Open Source Project -- Google is still building market share and gaining more user data for advertising.