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Will Google's AndroidOne stand the test of time in India ?

Harshith Mallya
13th Oct 2014
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Google may face major challenges in its critical Android One strategy in India as accessibility of its devices to most consumers in the market may not be easily available , International Data Centre(IDC) said in a statement.

The global major launched the the first wave of its $100 Android phones amid much fanfare last month in collaboration with leading Indian device brands like Micromax, Karbonn and Spice and mobile operators like Airtel and Reliance. These devices are priced in the range of US$105-110 (INR 6,399-6,499).

Google is partnering with leading Indian mobile operators like Airtel and Reliance as well as e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon to launch the devices.

Android One is vital for Google to execute on its strategy to leverage the fast-growing Android user base to drive engagement for its increasing portfolio of essential Google services and a consistent user experience, or at least a vastly improved one, will greatly increase engagement and ultimately revenues, IDC said.

The basic principle of AndroidOne rests on reference designs that are at the core of the new products. The initial wave of devices launched are all based on Mediatek reference designs of the MT6582 SoC chipset, while Qualcomm-based devices are expected for future releases, it added.

India is now a key market for global technology majors as Facebook and Google ramp up their operations and strategies for this market, with a focus on making technology more accessible across all classes of society.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke about Facebook's plans to make the internet more easily accessible to more people at the Internet.org summit at New Delhi.

Challenges for Google

These plans may be a lot harder to implement than they look, according to IDC’s research.

For instance, AndroidOne devices are currently available only in the online stores while a large part of the target audience for these devices do not have the know how, resources or comfort shopping there. Instead, they prefer to shop at brick and mortar stores where the phones are not yet available, said IDC.

Moreover, the $100 smartphone segment already bursting in India as manufacturers such as like Xiaomi, Samsung and Motorola are already selling devices in that range. Google has an uphill task of grabbing a piece of that market share.

"Despite significant marketing spend already in evidence on Android One, IDC believes India will be a tough crucible for Google. Blocked out of China, Google has no choice but to make a large downstream investment in the next billion consumer segment in India," the research firm said.

Future plans and strategies

Android One is also crucial to Google as it plans to take the phone to other emerging markets like Indonesia and Brazil after India.

According to IDC, AndroidOne represents the latest iteration of Google's Next Billion strategy, a belated bear hug of the fragmented Android ecosystem.

The research firm expects AndroidOne will go further and effectively create a bipolar "pear shaped" environment where the high end will be dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung with their iPhone and Galaxy flagship devices; and the lower end will increasingly converge around the $100 Average Selling Price (ASP) benchmark.

Do you have an Android One device or planning to purchase one? We would love to hear your views on this. Do you think Google will succeed with their Android One devices? 

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