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Report: Google to expand low-cost Android One program to US

Google is expanding its low-cost Android One program to the U.S. with a new phone by an unidentified maker set to debut by the middle of 2017, The Information reported Jan. 17, citing three people briefed on the company's plans.

It is not clear who will make the device, but The Information report suggested LG Electronics Inc. could be a potential partner. The U.S. phone is expected to be priced at $200 to $300, more than its initial counterpart in India, which cost 6,399 Indian rupees, or about $93.

The first Android One phones debuted in India in September 2014, made by local companies. Google later expanded the program to 19 additional countries, The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2015.

While Google described Android One as part of a larger effort to connect the "next five billion" users around the world who do not have access to a smartphone, initial sales were poor. In India, the program struggled to compete with a raft of low-cost Android devices already available to consumers.

Partnerships with Indian phone makers Micromax Informatics, Karbonn and Spice led to sales of 1.2 million units in the first year the program launched, according to research firm Counterpoint. But this total represented only 3.5% of the market for devices that cost $50 to $100, the Journal reported.

Google's U.S. expansion plan for Android One comes as Apple Inc. is reportedly exploring manufacturing its phones in India, though some observers noted that Apple would face competition from non-Google-branded Android devices.