Google’s Android One initiative has started putting affordable smartphones into India.
The Android One programme wanted to push Google’s mobile operating system into markets it had, up until this point, been unable to crack. Markets where affordability was key to the success of a product. That push is happening now, starting with three mobile manufacturers in India.
At the last I/O conference earlier this year Google showcased the myriad of plates it was spinning with the forthcoming update to the mobile experience that is Android L, the push to put Android on your wrist, in you car and in your living room with Android Wear, Auto and TV, and then Sundar Pichai briefly mentioned something called Android One – a scheme with a small idea that has some big implications.
Starting today, Android One-based handsets from Indian phone-makers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice are making their way into the local market, where only one-in-ten currently has access to a smartphone. The Android One scheme makes it easier for phone-makers to create affordable, easily updateable handsets in partnership with Google.
Pichai describes the Android One process as a sort of ‘menu’ where Google provides OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with a list of approved components and specifications that they can then pick and choose from when creating an Android One-certified device. The advantage of this process is that Google has the power to provide constant updates of Android to the user, rather than relying on carrier/handset-specific update schedules as is the case in other markets where Android is already more prevalent, such as the UK.
|Micromax Canvas A1||Karbonn Sparkle V||Spice Dream UNO|
|Availability||Amazon (exclusively)||Snapdeal (exclusively)||Flipkart (exclusively)|
|Price||6,499 INR (£65.50)||6,399 INR (£64.50)||6,299 INR (£63.50)|
This guarantees a consistent and current user experience for all Android One device owners, without the need to upgrade their smartphone as frequently. Despite the fairly rigid framework, Google and the OEMs have tailored the Android experience for the target market, in this case India.
For the most part, these new devices should feel like they’re running what is essentially stock Android, however, similarly to Motorola’s Moto G and X, some minor tweaks have been made. Users in India prefer devices with dual-SIM support, and FM radio, microSD expandability and a removable battery.
The content that Google Now offers up also accommodates caters specifically to the Indian market, with dedicated cards for train bookings and cricket scores, Google’s Newsstand app features 13 additional local publications and there’s even a modified YouTube that allows users to download and reply videos offline to conserve in data usage.
In a market expected to purchase 400 million smartphones over the next five years, it’s no surprise that Pichai chose India to serve as the debut region for Android One. Now keep your eyes on those market shares, Android might be about to take a significantly larger bite away from the competition.