Google puts high-end Android Silver program on hold

Android Silver is Google's answer to the iPhone. Photo: Google.

Android Silver is Google’s answer to the iPhone. Photo: Google.

Google’s rumored Android Silver program, which was expected to deliver high-end devices with premium designs, has reportedly been put on hold following the departure of Nikesh Arora, one of the project’s leads. Sources say the search giant has now doubled down on its Android One program instead.

Android Silver was set to be the complete opposite of Android One — a high-end smartphone program that would boost the production of premium devices that could compete with the iPhone in terms of design. Arora, who was Google’s sales chief, was reportedly working with handset makers on the first crop of Android Silver devices.

But following Arora’s departure in July, the program has been halted. Sources familiar with Google’s plans have told The Information that company executives doubted the program could success, while potential hardware partners had “mixed reactions” to it. As a result, the company has put more resources into Android One instead.

One of the reasons the Android platform is so popular is its affordability. While high-end devices are a success, it’s the entry-level and midrange devices that sell like hot cakes — not only in the U.S. but in emerging markets worldwide — that really give the operating system the coverage it needs to stay well ahead of iOS in market share.

Perhaps that’s why Google felt Android One had more potential than Android Silver. The company launched the first three Android One handsets in India earlier this week, and they cost just $105 off-contract with 4.5-inch displays, quad-core processors, dual SIM card slots, and built-in FM radios.