Google wants to win more customers in India, which is a fast-growing emerging market. More than a year ago, the company helped in the launch of low-cost smartphones in India, but it was not successful. Now it is making another attempt, but this time it has relaxed its rules and is giving more say to phone makers when it comes to features and prices.
Google gives freedom to Android One Partners
A report from The Wall Street Journal, which cites unnamed people familiar with the matter, says that Google and India’s Lava International are planning to release a new low-cost smartphone in the coming months as part of the Android One program. The U.S. firm wants people in developing economies to make use of its Android mobile operating system to get online in an inexpensive way.
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Under Google’s revamped initiative, device makers get more freedom to choose the components and features that go into the phones and also decide on its price, the report said. Google partners can now choose from a variety of each components and even buy parts from their vendors, the report said.
First attempt a flop
In September 2014, Google launched Android One in India with the aim of adding more users for its apps and services such as Search, Gmail and YouTube so as to increase its advertising revenue. The cost of the first Android One smartphone was roughly $100 and was made in partnership with Indian handset makers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice.
According to research firm Counterpoint, first year shipments of these three versions totaled just 1.2 million units in India. They represented 3.5% of the market for devices priced from $50 to $100. In comparison, Redmi smartphones from China’s Xiaomi secured 7.5% of the market.
Products from Google’s partners also gave Android One a tough fight. Micromax, the Indian handset maker, said it sells about 3 million handsets a month with most of them priced below $150. These devices run Android but are not Android One devices.
After releasing in India, Android One expanded to 19 more countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. Counterpoint informed readers that the total global shipments were just 3 million. Google did not release sales figures for Android One devices.