Google’s Android One initiative hasn’t yet found its feet according to reports, but Google isn’t giving up on a potentially lucrative market. According to the Financial Times, the Android One program is set for a reboot, with aims at lowering prices on handsets to sub-US$50 per handset.
The FT spoke to Rajan Anandan, Managing Director Google India who said hat Google remained ‘very committed’ to the Android One program. The Android One program is an iniatative which delivers a low-cost, set hardware spec to manufacturers that allows Google to deliver timely updates to handsets. The speed of updates is key to the process, as it upsets the current model with tier one vendors which has seen updates, including security updates for high-profile issues like Stagefright, lag seriously behind.
The program hasn’t been as successful as Google wanted, with Mr Anandan advising the program had ‘not delivered to expectations’, putting some of the blame on supply chain from China, which has led to shortages of the phones.
When originally launched, the Android One program was supposed to deliver sub-US$100 handsets in emerging markets. However since launch, not a single handset has hit that mark, with some handsets like the Android One handset from General Mobile in Turkey hitting the US$260 price point – not exactly the territory that Google is aiming for. India has had some more success with price point and it’s here a re-launch of Android One is set to take place in ‘the next few weeks’ according to Mr Anandan.
Pricing for the re-launch, Mr Anandan said was aiming for Rs2,000(AU$42.33) – Rs3,000(AU$63.50) per device – something much more in line with the price aimed at emerging markets.
Google has been working on a number of their services, delivering lower bandwidth versions of webpages via proxy, as well as improved search results on slower connections, and offline YouTube and Maps, services which are required in markets where bandwidth is in short supply.
Google is also aiming at building more products aimed at Indian users, with search being a key component especially with competition from Indian based search start-up JustDial, with Mr Anandan saying
There are several battlegrounds where we are not winning [and] local search is clearly the one where it’s most apparent.
Strategically it [India] is very, very important,” he added. “Don’t get me wrong, the revenue is interesting but . . . we’re here really because 10 years from now a billion Indians will be online and when we have a billion Indians online we think that’s going to make a huge difference to the global internet economy.