Google Executive Sundar Pichai Launching Android One
Google tightened its grip on Apple’s cojones in emerging markets like India with the launch of the new Android One “turnkey solution” initiative for smartphone manufacturers.
Over the last couple of years, Google has extended the sway of its Android mobile platform through various partnerships pushing Apple’s marketshare down relentlessly.
Already an irrelevant player in the growing Indian smartphone market, Apple will find it even harder to gain marketshare in the face of initiatives like Android One.
Android accounts for the overwhelming majority of the Indian smartphone market while Apple languishes around 1%-2%.
Android One – Indian Beginning
Google touted Android One as a turnkey solution combining hardware reference platforms and software to enable manufacturers to quickly launch smartphones at low prices in emerging markets like India where smartphone pentration is less than 10%.
On the hardware side, Google will identify a set of components that go into “next-generation smartphones” and pre-qualify vendors so that they can easily build high quality smartphones quickly.
The software on Android One will include stock Android (found on Nexus and Google Play Edition phones), locally relevant apps and automatic updates to the Android software.
At Google’s annual I/O conference today, Google senior VP Sundar Pichai identified Indian smartphone vendor Micromax as one of several companies Google is working with on the Android One program to offer smartphones for less than $100.
Au contraire, Apple’s iPhone 5S cost $891 for the basic 16GB model. Even the three-year-old iPhone 4S costs $641 in India. Unlike in the U.S., smartphones are not subsidized by carriers in India.
The Micromax smartphone Pichai mentioned in his keynote features a 4.5-inch screen and comes with dual SIM, SD card slot and FM radio.
“We’re working with many partners around the world. But we start this journey in India. We’re launching AndroidOne with three OEMs in India in the fall of this year – Micromax, Karbonn and Spice,” Pichai told the audience.
As part of the Android One initiative, Google is also partnering with carriers to provide affordable connectivity packages to users.
Unlike saturated smartphone markets like the U.S., in emerging markets like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka the majority of people still use feature phones. The Indian smartphone market is around 30-million but growing at a rapid pace. Smartphone shipments grew 186% in the first quarter of 2014, according to market researcher IDC.
Google and Apple are fighting a hard battle in emerging markets but Apple is losing out in key countries like India.
The Indian smartphone market is dominated by Android devices from a gazillion players including Samsung, LG, Lenovo, OPPO, Gionee, Konka, Huawei, ZTE, Micromax, Karboon, Spice and Lava.
“Our goal is to reach the next five billion people in the world,” Pichai said while launching Android One.