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Google Intros Android One Smartphones for Emerging Markets

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Google's Sundar Pichai, senior vice president at Google, introduced their new Android One initiative at their annual Google I/O developer conference in California today. The new Android One hardware platform is designed primarily to assist OEM's who are selling entry level smartphones into emerging markets. Selling the next billion Android phones depends on this initiative taking flight.


Google Introduces the Android One Initiative for Emerging Markets


2AF PA - Android One

For emerging markets, Google introduced their new initiative called "androidone." OEM's serving emerging markets all have to reinvent the wheel every time that they want to bring a new smartphone to market which takes on average nine months, claimed Pichai.


So Google is now working on a series of hardware reference platforms where they identify the components going into a next generation smartphone and they qualify vendors that will build turnkey systems for OEMs so it's easier for them to build new smartphones.


In addition to hardware, Google is also working on software for androidone (or Android One – another way they present the logo). The big news here is that Google will be providing these OEMs under Android One with automatic software updates. But Androiders should get too excited here because there are strings attached for the updates to work.




Google's well known Android software updating problem was a huge point that Apple's CEO Tim Cook made during his keynote to Apple developers in June. Android One is a baby step in the right direction, but it's for a very limited market: phones for emerging markets and maybe for super bargain basement phones around the globe (though don't hold your breath on the latter for 2014). 


That means that there isn't going to be an updating software solution for premium Android smartphones anytime soon, if ever. For software updating to work, premium smartphone OEM's would have to comply to a common set of hardware with little to no room for original components.


That isn't going to fly in the foreseeable future because Apple continues to lead the way with ever new features and hardware components to keep the competition jumping. Android smartphone OEM's like Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony will continue their fight to compete for the higher-end user which will leave their Android customers without the ability to get timely software updates to keep their devices safe from new viruses and security breaches.


So, in the not-too-distant future, Android smartphone buyers will have two choices: They'll either have to choose between buying a very low-end device that will automatically receive software updates to stay safe or chance it with a higher-end device that will be at a much higher risk of running into every new virus and safety breach imaginable. Wow, what a choice.


4AF PA - The $100 dollar smartphone from Micromax India


Noted in Google's I/O slide above is the first Android One smartphone from Micromax India. It currently has features that matter to a country like India, claims Google's Sundar Pichai. It will come with a dual SIM, a removable SD Card, a 4.5 inch display and an FM Radio. The unit will cost $100, though Pichai wasn't clear as to whether that was the cost to Micromax to make the smartphone or that it will retail for that price. If I'm correct, it'll be the latter.


Three Indian OEM's (Karboon, Micromax and Spice) will kick start Android One with smartphones shipping this fall. These kinds of phones are to address the threat from Microsoft's Nokia X smartphones which start at US$136 retail.


Below is an "emerging market" map illustrating where Google is aiming their Android One initiative for. Android One will fill an area in the market that Apple is currently avoiding and likely never to address.




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