Back in June at Google I/O we were promised smartphones that are under $100 a project Google called Android One, this initiative Launches today in India and marks a key development in the smartphone industry. We already have smartphones that cost lower that $100 but they are so low end as they lack the features like big color screens and the latest version of Android, something the Android One initiative addresses.
Google will monitor the Operating system that is loaded on these devices and they will also receive the latest Android updates. So far Google has partnered with several OEMs including smaller chipmakers and lesser known phone makers. In India, for example, Google is working with regional brands like Micromax and Karbonn rather than the large global brands.
This move will put other smartphone makers in the industry on pressure, and show us better quality low-end smartphone at under or just $100. Even if Google keeps the Android One focus on emerging markets like India and Africa it could be bad news for the big brands in mobile–companies like Samsung, HTC, Qualcomm, and Motorola not forgetting Chinese low-cost brands like ZTE and Huawei.
So while Android One is aimed for merging markets we still wait to see what Google will do for it’s Nexus program this year. In recent times Google has also sold stock Android “Google Play” editions of high-end phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S or HTC’s one. There are also rumors of Google working on a program called Android Silver that would see participating phone makers get marketing muscle from Google but agree to limits on the pieces of the software they could customize.
HTC, Asus, and others are signing up
After India, Android One phones are set to make go to Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal before the end of the year.We also hope Africa is in plans as well. Google says phone manufacturers including HTC, Asus, Acer, Panasonic, and Lenovo are joining the program, alongside chip maker Qualcomm.
India is the second biggest mobile market in the world, but hasn’t yet achieved strong smartphone penetration. As such, it’s a major growth opportunity for the likes of Google and Microsoft, which has achieved some success in certain parts of the world with its low-cost Nokia Lumia Windows Phone handsets.