Announced last September, Android One is Google's attempt to get smartphones in the hands of "the next billion users" - referring to Android's already-massive install base - by selling solid, stock Android Lollipop phones at rock-bottom prices in developing countries.
However, our notion of rock-bottom pricing for these phones may not be low enough for Google, or more specifically, for the targeted buyers in these territories. Several phones have launched since last autumn in countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with many of the devices coming in near US$100, or about S$140.
Supply issues have led to shortages, but Google's Rajan Anandan - managing director of Android One in India and Southeast Asia - tells The Financial Times that the company will continue pushing the programme there. In fact, he hopes that Google's partners will be able to drive down phone costs dramatically lower in the coming years.
According to the piece, Anandan said he wants Android One phones to someday be available in what he says is a potential "sweet spot" of smartphone pricing for India, at just 2,000-3,000 rupees - or £20-30 (S$45-65). It's a staggering thought, but then again, he's not talking about flagship phones; a phone that cheap would put basic function well above form and processing power.
He says the initiative "had a few hiccups" out of the gate, but that in addition to trying to push prices down, Google also plans to invest in the process of bringing millions of Indian businesses online. The company has also launched offline versions of apps, and is trying to cut down on data consumption of others to better fit the spotty bandwidth speeds of the region.
However much Google spends to get India and other countries online faster, it'll surely be repaid handsomely in time with ad views, app purchases, and all the other ways in which the company profits from our everyday web usage. Still, it's unlikely that we'll see Android One expand to the UK or the States, given how robust and successful those smartphone markets already are.
[Source: The Financial Times]