Although there are many budget smartphones running Android on the market, the Android One is Google’s attempt to deliver a “pure,” fully functional Android experience, without all the junk that wireless carriers and handset manufacturers load on top of it, at a cheap price.
It’s the exact opposite strategy of Apple, which is seeking to lock up the high-end, premium section of the market.
Countries like India have strong emerging market for smartphones — India has the second biggest mobile market in the world. However, there is still a lot of the population without smartphones — according to Reuters, just 10% of the population owns a smartphone, and that figure is expected to double over the next four years.
Google has managed to produce and sell its new phone cheaply by partnering with Indian vendors Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles. Karbonn has previously produced smartphones that cost $US26.
All three of the manufacturers will be selling the phones from later today.
Google’s ambition here is obvious: If Android One is successful, then Google can steal back huge chunks of market share that have been taken all over Asia by Android manufacturers who have been making cheap Android phones but delivering an often poor-quality experience.
More broadly, if Google can make its Android One business profitable for its handset partners, then it could consider entering more Western markets with a decent Android phone at an extremely low price — and that would make competition extremely fierce. Samsung, for instance, is already losing sales to lower-priced Android competitors. Google stated on its blog today that the Android One is for “the next 5 billion.”
Google svp Sundar Pichai, who oversees Android, told the BBC:
Our goal was to develop high quality smartphones at an affordable price, with access to connectivity, done at scale around the world.
Here’s what expect from the new phone:
- Priced at $US105 (6,399 rupees) if bought contract free.
- 4.5 inch FWVGA display
- 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek CPU
- 1 GB RAM
- 4GB internal memory
- microSFD up to 32 GB
- dual-SIM connectivity
- 5 MP camera with LED flash
The phone will also be rolled out to other countries in the following months, with Google intending to partner with other vendors. According to ZDNet, the other countries that will have the Android One this year include Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.