The Next Billion, Android One

Google did it again: the search giant has managed to come up with a product that speaks to a large new market. They have developed a line of cheap smartphones targeted to ‘the next billion’, customers in developing countries such as India.

The developing world has been referred to as ‘the next billion’ in terms of market opportunity. The increase in sales of smartphones in India showed an impressive growth of 186% in 2013. Interesting to note is that 78% of the total sales were devices priced below $200.

Google is not the first to have set its eyes on this market. Nokia developed the Asha line of phones and the Android-powered Nokia X series. Microsoft lowered the price of its Windows Phone platform and Mozilla follows with its Firefox OS platform, all in order to tap into the next billion market.

So what exactly is Android One? It is a ‘reference platform’, a set of rules that device makers follow to produce low-cost phones. Google performs the difficult (and costly) part of the job by figuring out the material costs and this results in lower costs for the manufactures to produce these devices. In turn, Google has the assurance that even low-end devices have no issues running its software, ensuring a certain level of quality for all its users.

But Google does even more. Besides controlling the hardware, it also pushes the latest versions of Android to the phones, ensuring no unnecessary software additions endanger the performance. This approach embarks Google on a new level with Android.

The price of the first phones will be around 81 euro’s. Google has announced it will roll out to Indonesia, the Philippine’s and other South-Asian countries within 2014. The expansion will continue in 2015. Collaborations with manufacturers such as HTC, Asus, Acer, Panasonic and Lenovo have already been confirmed.


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