At the annual developer conference (Google I/O) in June this year, the company announced Android One, an initiative to bring affordable Android smartphones to developing markets — “the next 5 billion people in the world”, as Google’s VP Sundar Pichai put it.
To have them as affordable as possible, the three phones come with a starting price of (Indian Ruppe) Rs 6,399 ($100, £65, AU$115), though some models may cost around $10 more. This is expected to be the pricing range going forward.
All these devices have a controlled and almost similar spec sheet — they sport 4.5-inch displays with a 854×480 resolution, have quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek processors, dual-SIM capabilities, 1 GB RAM and 4 GB onboard storage, which can be expanded up to 32 GB via microSD. There is also a 5-megapixel rear camera on every device. On top of that, they will run the latest Android OS with promise of future updates that are direct from Google. With the engagement of local carriers, this will definitely be possible.
In an effort to reduce data costs, if you have an Airtel SIM card, you’ll get these software updates for free for the first six months. As part of this same Airtel offer, you’ll also be able to download up to 200MB per month worth of your favorite apps (that’s about 50 apps overall) from Google Play—all without counting toward your mobile data usage.
Google is also said to be engaging OEMs such as Alcatel, Panasonic, Asus, Acer, HTC and Lenovo who are set to be the next manufacturing partners for Android One.
The newly launched phones will be sold exclusively online with Indian e-commerce websites like Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amazon India to begin with, but they will also head to retail stores by October this year. After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015. I hope we’ll have them in our Kenyan stores by then!
We couldn’t be happier with this initiative. Google has made very good considerations on price, specifications, partnerships with manufacturing partners and local carriers.
Gone will be the days of terrible budget phones with outdated software. I’m looking at you Huawei IDEOS, Intel YOLO and various low-end Samsung/LG phones.
We hope they are able to replicate this all over the developing world with great success. That way, everybody wins. It’s a great deal!