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News18 » India
3-min read

Why Google's Android One can change the smartphone market

With Android One, Google aims to improve the quality of hardware and software by giving handset makers a frame of reference.


Updated:September 16, 2014, 6:05 PM IST
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Why Google's Android One can change the smartphone market
With Android One, Google aims to improve the quality of hardware and software by giving handset makers a frame of reference.

New Delhi: Google on Monday launched in India three Android One phones capable of Internet access at prices starting at Rs 6,299, as it looks to win customers in the world's fastest growing smartphone market with low prices and better quality software.

Powered by Google's Android operating system, the handsets, made by Micromax, Karbonn Mobiles India and Spice Mobility will be available online on Amazon's India website and at Flipkart and Snapdeal. The smartphone features a MediaTek quad-core processor and a 4.5-inch screen.

The Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498 is priced at Rs 6299 on Flipkart, the Karbonn Android One Sparkle V is available for Rs 6399 on Snapdeal and the Micromax Canvas A1 is listed on Amazon.in at Rs 6,499.

With Android One, Google aims to improve the quality of hardware and software by giving handset makers a frame of reference. Currently, many affordable smartphones in India already offer customised versions of the Android operating system. In case of Android One, the eventual software upgrades on the Android One phones would come directly from Google. This would give Google better control of the operating system and ensure users get a consistent service.

Gartner Principal Research Analyst Vishal Tripathi said Android One devices will be under Google's control thereby ensuring a standard hardware and software specs, which in turn will lead to a better experience for the consumers.

"Besides, it will also help to consolidate the highly fragmented smartphone market in India. No doubt competition will intensify due to this launch," he added.

Chip maker MediaTek said it expects as many as two million handsets to be sold this year in India.

Greyhound Research CEO Sanchit Vir Gogia feels Android One is going to be a game changer in India.

Google's goal is to reach the next 5 billion people in emerging markets and a billion in India. This gives them an edge as compared Microsoft, Apple and Blackberry, he added.

"Android One gives Google tighter control over the Google OS which means standardised UX. Support for seven regional languages is going to be a solid plus over competitors - this will not only help consumers use vernacular, it is also likely to help promote apps in regional language," Gogia said.

The launch is also important for the e-commerce partners as electronics - especially mobile phones - are one of the highest selling items on e-commerce sites.

Motorola and Xiaomi have successfully launched their smartphones on Flipkart, while players like Spice and Micromax have sold devices on Snapdeal.

e-Commerce sites see about 4 million queries per day in India for smartphones and in two years, one in four phones are expected to be bought online.

Google also said that Newstand, which provides digital version of newspapers and magazines, will come to India from tomorrow.

According to research firm IDC, smartphone sales in the country grew almost three-fold to over 44 million in 2013, buoyed by affordable devices made by local firms such as Micromax and Karbonn.

In the second quarter of 2014, 18.42 million smartphones were shipped in India. Though Samsung is the leader with a 29 per cent market share, Micromax (18 per cent), Karbonn (8 per cent) and LAVA (6 per cent) are close competitors.

While Android is the dominant operating system globally, other OS' like Windows and iOS (Apple) are also gaining traction. Also, newer platforms like Firefox and Tizen may emerge as strong challengers to Google's platform.

Google's attempts are also important as it aims to capture a larger share of the entry-level segment.

Last week, Firefox (in partnership with Spice and Intex) launched two new smartphones, priced below Rs 2,300, aimed at those looking to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones.

On the competition to Android One, Gogia said Greyhound Research believes that Google can expect competition but none has the wherewithal like Google to be as aggressive and invest heavily in the ecosystem.

"Both, Microsoft and Apple are not eyeing this market at all, so we can safely expect Google to pretty much own this market. Eventually, Android One will touch Tablets as well," he said.

India is the first country where Google's Android One devices are being launched. Roll out across other markets like Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka will follow in the coming months. Google is also expanding Android One programme with Acer, Alcatal OneTouch, Xolo, HTC, Lava, Intex, Asus and Lenovo. It has also roped in Qualcomm for the chipsets.

(With inputs from PTI)

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