While its not true that everyone in the First World owns a smartphone, the market is very much close to reaching saturation point. As some businesses such as Apple attempt to lock down this core of high-end users, other have much more worldly ambitions. Google is foremost among these, looking for ways to get its Android operating system onto smartphones used by the next billion potential consumers in the developing world.
In order to achieve this, they have created the Android One program, debuted in India just this week. This program is intended to provide branded devices with a low price point, while at the same time maintaining reasonable specs. In a similar way to the Nexus program, these devices will be produced by local manufacturers in collaboration with Google, as a way of keeping costs down.
Despite price being the main factor in the construction of these devices, Google is also setting several benchmarks which devices must pass in order to be given the Android One branding. These include quad-core processor, all day battery life, front and rear cameras, dual SIM capacity, and a micro SD card port. As well as these, Android One devices will run stock Android, and will feature 2 years of upgrade support.
The first phones produced as part of the Android One program will go on sale this week in India. They were created in collaboration with three of the largest Indian smartphone manufacturers: Spice, Karbonn and Micromax, and will be available for just over $100.
India is just the beginning of Google’s aspirations with this program however, with plans in the coming months to expand Android One into other developing world markets including Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. These markets are very important for Google, as other competing operating systems pushed by competitors are beginning to make inroads. Low cost phones running Firefox OS and Samsung’s Tizen OS have been launched and could erode Android’s market share if action is not taken.
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