Android One: How this could be game changer for smartphone market?

Android One: How this could be game changer for smartphone market?

Google today launched its Android One initiative-based smartphones in India with partnering Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. The initiative was announced back in June at Google’s I/O 2014 conference as a move to provide smartphone experience to the four billion people who are not yet even connected to the Internet as the rest of the world. We attended the company’s press event held in New Delhi earlier today and observed some of the key facts which could make Android One as a game changer for the smartphone market. So here are our words.

Android One, as its name itself suggests, is an Android-based initiative. But unlike Android operating system, which is available as an open-source operating system for all the OEMs as well as developers, this new initiative is just an initial testing by Google with adding a few key partners. Contrary to the operating system, Android One is a reference design for the OEMs, especially for the ones who are selling their offerings in emerging markets, specifically in India in the beginning, to offer pure Android experience to the customers.

To give pure Android experience to the customers based in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia and Philippines, Google is focusing on three main areas – hardware, software and data. There is no doubt that the search giant is highly capable of designing one of the best software experiences but it needs partners for building a specific hardware to add its software layer and with offering an active data connection. For this, the company chosen partners such as Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and Airtel which so far joined the panel for Android One.

A question might arise at this point that why these partners have joined hands with Google when they were already generating decent revenue figures from their offerings in the Indian market. The answer is quite simple, they are anxious to do so to expand their revenue and to add Google’s brand name, which is quite respected, with their offerings. So the partnership behind Android One is quite fruitful for Google as well as for its key partners. Now many would be interested to know that how this could be a fruitful initiative for the end-customers, who do not have any interest on the revenue generation of these partners.

Google promises that every Android One smartphone will receive all the latest over-the-air (OTA) updates for the next two years and the partnership with data providers, like Airtel in India, will offer free data access for downloading software updates and apps for the next six months. These two offerings distinguish Android One smartphones from other Android-based smartphones.

Most of the customers who buy a smartphone today eagerly want to receive all the latest updates in future, at least for one or two years after the purchase, to make their smartphone up-to-date. Google answered this with introducing its Nexus devices a few years back but Android One is a step ahead on the same avenue.

Apart from promising software updates, Google has provided stock Android on the Android One smartphones which means that these affordable smartphones will not carry any heavy tweaks on the interface front, such as TouchWiz, Sense, MIUI or Emotion UI, which eat most of the available resources. So this would give an enhanced experience to the end-users, with less lag that usually occur from an heavy interface.

The presence of stock Android, decent hardware and a promise for future updates confirm that Android One could be the affordable contender by Google to take on all the leading Android smartphone vendors such as Samsung, HTC, Sony and Lenovo. As Android One smartphones are currently available only in the entry-level price segment, these smartphones could also make things difficult for the OEM partners which sell their smartphones in the same price bracket with no word on future updates or any bundle data plan.

Moreover, Google’s offering with Android One will also likely to capture some shares of Windows Phone market which are quite low in number today but were expected to raise in the coming future. That said, Google will now just have to work on providing great after sales service along with its Android One initiative to be a long-run leader in the emerging markets.

Categories: Analysis