Android One takes smartphones to low-income markets

26 June 2014

Google has used its 2014 I/O keynote to announce plans to launch a new program to create affordable, high-quality devices for developing markets.

Called Android One, the initiative will provide manufacturers with the necessary blueprints to design and build Android devices at a lower cost, without sacrificing important software features.

With more than a billion people using Android-powered devices worldwide on a daily basis, Google’s plans for world domination are already full steam ahead. But if the company wants to add another billion loyal customers to the ranks, it needs to focus on potential users in emerging markets – and to do this, prices for devices need to come down.

Google has partnered with manufacturers Micromax, Spice and Karbonn to launch its One initiative in India later this year, with a view to then taking it worldwide. Micromax plans to release an initial Android One device which will feature a dual SIM, 4.5-inch screen, SD card slot and FM radio. Prices are set at $100 or less for all Android One phones to encourage affordability.

All devices launched as part of the program will run a stock version of Android, but will receive automatic updates from Google periodically. Despite the standardised software, manufacturers will still be free to add their own customisation to devices via apps.

While competitor Apple is maintaining its status as a prestige product –and is unlikely to move into the low-cost device market any time soon – Android’s attempt to snag entry-level smartphone users through affordable devices may go a long way to further expanding the platform’s extensive user base.

And creating a sense of brand loyalty by encouraging customers to start out on an Android device means they’re likely to stick with the operating system if, in the future, they happen to transition to a higher-end handset.

Image credit: Scott Akerman at Flickr



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