In a first for India, Google Inc today launched their Android One initiative first in this market with an aim to bring high-quality smartphones at affordable prices for the emerging markets with later plans of expansion to other markets in South East Asia and beyond.
Speaking at the launch, Sundar Pichai, Google Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome & Apps, said - “Advancement in technology and quick access to information has changed our lives so much and made it a lot better. While 1.75 billion people around the world already enjoy this, the vast majority of the world’s population - over five billion more - do not. With Android One, we not only want to help people get online, we want to make sure that when they get there, they can tap into the wealth of information and knowledge the web holds for everyone.”
Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India told YourStory that this was Google India’s biggest day and that mobile has been the core focus of the company for quite some time.
“The growth of mobile app downloads and smartphone usage has almost tripled in India in last couple of years and we see a huge potential in the Education, Healthcare and Communication space given the size of the market.” added Sundar.
He also added that Google has been working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to come up with optimal design reference and components matchmaking to make it easier for their partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable.
Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management at Mountainview, California, who has been leading on the Android One initiative within Google, announced the first three Android One smartphones ever - Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1, and Spice Dream UNO at a retial price of INR 6399.
Google also announced their new set of hardware partners for the Android One initiative including - Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, and Xolo, as well as chipmaker Qualcomm. And plans to launch the Android One phones in Indonesia, Philippines, and additional countries in South Asia by the end of 2014.
Here’s a quick look at the new Android One phone features –
The Karbonn Sparkle V (Magnum Blue, Mild Grey, Wild Red and Pearl White) is available online exclusively at Snapdeal, the Micromax Canvas A1 (Black, White) is available online exclusively at Amazon and the Spice Dream UNO (Black, White) is available online exclusively at Flipkart.
Android One phones will be among the first to get the new Android L release — an update that will offer Google’s new material design, improved battery life, enhanced security features, and smarter notifications, Ceasar said.
While Android One phones will have access to the over one million apps on the Playstor,. Google’s apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Search, and Google Translate will be pre-loaded on the phones.
As part of the Android One initiative Airtel is offering a promotional free/reduce cost data usage plan to its users. With an Airtel SIM card, Android One users will get free over-the-air (OTA) updates, and 200MB per month worth of app downloads from Google Play for the first six months — all without counting toward their mobile data plan. Additionally, a data compression feature on Android One’s Chrome browser will help compress the amount of data flowing between the phone and the Internet.
Google also announced that in coming weeks much of YouTube will be available offline in India, meaning that people can store videos in the YouTube app when they are on WiFi and watch them later — a great benefit for times with a slow connection or re-watching videos without using up the data plan.
In all - while Apple is focusing on providing richer and better experience to the upmarket consumers from the developed countries, Google is focusing on inclusiveness by enabling smartphone access to the vast consumer population in emerging markets.
Thus the Android One initiative gives the power of creating highly modular smartphones at affordable prices for the OEMs while not deviating much from the user experience and this is one step away from Google’s another pet project ‘ARA’ which brings the choice of smartphone hardware customization to the hands of end user. While it is ambitious – how these two pan out is something which we have to wait and watch.
Are you interested in Android One? Which of the three phone will you go for? Share your thoughts here.