Aug 10, 2015 12:59 AM EDT
When the Android One initiative launched in 2014, Google, via Android, hoped to capture the next billion users from developing countries. However, the turnout wasn’t so awe-inspiring. The company managed to help producers churn out sub-$200 smartphones, but these still seemed to be out of reach for the target customers, as the uptake by the target market has been less than expected.
Google isn’t giving up on the Android One initiative, however, and it’s working on setting the bar lower.
Lower, in terms of price range, that is.
Vice President & Managing Director of Google in South East Asia & India, Rajan Anandan, revealed little about the details of the plans to reboot the Android One initiative, except for the fact that Google aims to roll out phones in the $30 to $50 price range. There are rumors that say that Google aims to develop apps that will use little to no data, to cater to areas where data subscriptions are expensive, but these rumors have yet to be substantiated.
In terms of sales, last year’s launch of the Android One only garnered less than a million in unit sales. This falls far below Google’s target of reaching the next billion users, especially those in India.
Google is seeing India as a very valuable potential market, as the next iteration of Android One aims to tailor the devices for the specific market of the nation. Localization, especially in terms of the language used for the devices, is being considered, reportedly. India-specific apps are also being considered for the development.
Google is not alone in targeting the developing country as a potential gold mine of the next wave of devices to keep a whole demographic hooked on its ecosystem—Facebook has also launched an initiative called Internet.org, where they opened free basic Internet services to developing countries via its Internet.org portal and app.
The race to get the next billion users from developing countries is on. And it starts with offering ever-cheaper devices, as well as free internet connectivity services, to developing nations, starting with emerging tech hub India.
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