Google Brings Android One Sub-$100 Smartphone Program, Partners With Micromax, Karbonn And Spice
At the Google I/O 2014 keynote presentation, Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai announced the company’s new program to bring affordable Smartphones to the masses. Dubbed ‘Android One’, Smartphones launched under this program will be both affordable, and receive regular software updates.
Still skeptical? This will perhaps take that away…
Google will themselves seed regular Android updates to all Smartphones (and not the handset vendors like Micromax, Spice etc) under Android One, just like they do for the Nexus lineup and the separate Google Play Edition handsets.
To many, it might seem as if Google is simply detaching the Play Edition brand from the Play Store, but attaching a cheaper price tag to it. There is a certain degree of truth to that; the first Android One Smartphone will cost under $100. More on that later.
However, Android One goes further than that. Google is providing OEMs with reference hardware platforms, which will enable them to produce powerful handsets are lower costs. To achieve this, the Mountain View company has paired up with our very own Micromax.
Surprised? We were too. With this new partnership, Micromax is effectively launching itself as a brand to be recognized across the globe, even though they market and sell most of its products in India (and Russia where they launched couple of handsets). It does set the stage for Micromax to launch across Europe, perhaps even in the US some day.
Alright, snapping back to the present day, Google also announced the first Android One Smartphone from Micromax. We even have some details regarding its specifications – a 4.5-inch display, dual-SIM slots, FM Radio, microSD card slot.
Most importantly, the Micromax handset will deliver the latest Android ‘L release’ to the masses, while costing less than $100. That’s a sub-Rs. 6,000 price tag, beating even the Motorola Moto E.
For those who don’t know about the Moto E, it is currently one of the most affordable Android Smartphone in the market that doesn’t skimp on any of the basics. It’s got the latest version of Android, decent hardware, a 4.3″ display and dual-SIM connectivity. Micromax’s Android One phone ticks all those boxes as well, while costing lesser. At this point, I’m very tempted to see the final device.
Heck, I would even buy it to get a taste of the latest version of Android, ‘L release’, and its new ‘Material Design’ based UI.
People who are concerned about the quality of such hands can be rest assured; Google is providing the reference hardware, remember? These phones will most probably come with Snapdragon chipsets, 1 GB of RAM and fill all the other requisites to provide a satisfactory end-user experience.
But that’s not all folks. You won’t have to be limited to Micromax – Google has also announced Indian brands Karbonn and Spice as their very first Android One partners.
Although no actual details regarding products were given out, expect handsets at similar price points with similar features from both Indian companies.
Check out this Google I/O Keynote address by Sundar Pichai where he talks about Android One. [Skip to 36 min mark for Android One details]
Do you still have some doubts about which direction Google is headed with this?
The company is targeting the ‘next 5 billion users’ with Android One, the people who still don’t own a Smartphone. Providing affordable yet quality handsets is definitely a step in the right direction.
However, most OEMs earn a majority of their revenue from Smartphones that sell under the Rs. 10,000 price point. If the market is flooded with Android One handsets, those OEMs are going to have a tough time to compete.
Android One is a program that will help Google not only to establish absolute dominance over the Smartphone market – from the bottom of the spectrum to the mid-range, with current flagships from numerous OEMs such as Samsung, Sony and LG already taking care of the high-end market – but will also mark the rise of several smaller manufacturers such as Micromax, Karbonn and Spice.
How are Samsung, LG and Sony going to react to cheap handsets taking over the market? Especially if those handsets are being updated directly by Google. It is definitely going to make life tough for them, but Google surely has a plan to involve them into the great initiative as well. Or, at least I hope that is the case.
There is no doubt that the future of Smartphones has taken an exciting turn. Apple did manage to WOW the crowds at WDDC with iOS 8, but Android One and Google ‘L release’ is the most exciting new thing to happen, mostly because a greater share of Earth’s population will get to take advantage of it.
What is your take on Android One?