Android One: insights into Google’s corporate strategy
Last Monday (September 15th), Google revealed one of its latest Smartphone releases: Android One, a $105 smartphone targeted to the Indian market. Why does Google pursue such a strategy and how does it fit the web giant’s corporate strategy? Let’s find out!
The fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
Over the years, Google developed and released a range of smartphones, including the Nexus line and more recently the Android One, which all aimed at the low-end market. The attractiveness of the bottom of the pyramid has been well documented for more than a decade now. Academics and journalists have described how, by providing the right products and services for the 3 billion people living on less than US$2.50 per day, companies can make some huge profits. Since a fellow blogger already investigated this reason (check it out below), I will let you dig into his/her article and focus on other aspects.
Google’s future smartphone
Android One is not quite yet what Google engineers would see as THE jewel. Nop, Google’s real goal for its smartphone product line is called Project Ara. Project Ara, simply said, is the new big thing coming for the Smartphone industry. Forget paper-like flexible screens, 35 inches Smartphone displays, and 10 TeraPixels camera phone; Ara raises the competition to a whole new level. Ara, an estimated $50 piece of technology, is a ‘platform’ smartphone that allows you to slide in any component you like. The phone itself does nothing amazing -if you put aside the remarkable technology embedded in the platform itself. The real magic happens when you, as a creative and very demanding individual with needs like no one else, decides to slide in magic tiny components of your choice. Google aims at revolutionizing the industry by allowing users to choose exactly what their phone does and what it doesn’t. Do you want to have some seriously cool Beat speakers and huge memory for all your music? No problem. Do you just want a 20 Mpixel camera for holidays but during the rest of the year would rather enjoy some extra battery? Please go ahead, slide in and out the camera as you need it and replace it with something else. Want to know more? Here is Ara’s first prototype presented only about a year ago.
Loon: a web in the clouds (literally.)
So, providing extremely cheap modular and customizable Smartphones sounds great, but why make it Smart if the next 3 billion doesn’t have internet? Well, there also is an app project for that. Google’s loon project, which started around 2011 and had its first experimental setting tested in 2013 in New Zealand, aims at providing internet to remote areas that are currently not yet wired. To do so, Google developed and applied new technologies to high-altitude balloons to create a 32km high wireless network that allows users to connect at an approximate 3G speed. More recently, about 4 months ago, Google repeated the same experiment and principles in Brazil, bringing the wireless connexion to a real LTE speed. A similar project is also being developed in Google’s most secret R&D facilities, with a similar goal, making use of a self-piloted drone technology (recently acquired by Google – Titan Aerospace).
The BIG picture
The big picture, you probably got it by now, is to bring Google’s technology, products, and services to the next 3 billion. In addition to the evident economic benefits associated with targeting the (very) low-end market, Google is also known (or is it?) for its philanthropic action, such as the creation of Google.org. All-in-all, credit should be given to the web-search giant’s corporate strategy which mixes economic and social benefit in a sustainable melting pot.
- Does Google make the right choice by targeting the bottom of the pyramid?
- Is the loon project a reliable and sustainable future technology?
- What do YOU think?