Monday, November 10, 2014

Google Android One: Sure-shot success or an ambitious product?


Google Android One offers 1.3 Ghz quad core processor, 5 mp rear and 2 mp front camera, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB ROM, and 4.5 inch screen in addition to latest Android version(4.4 Kitkat) at price points Rs 6499, Rs 6399 and Rs 6299 by Micromax, Karbonn and Spice respectively. Google is looking to differentiate Android One devices through software upgrades, more local languages support and value based pricing. But majority of the target market is not aware or concerned about software upgrades. Moreover, the device partners are themselves competing against Android One phones by already offering similar or better hardware features at almost same price. Also they have plans to launch phones in the Rs 5000-6000 range which will use Android but will be out of Android One programme. In addition, there is tough competition from non-partners’ products like Moto E priced at 7000 and Xiaomi RedMi 1S priced at 6400 with 1.6 Ghz, 8 mp camera and 4.7 inch specifications. The points of differentiation being portrayed by Google are in fact points of parity for the consumer. On the other hand, it is losing on points of parity too. For instance the battery in these devices is 1,700 mAh whereas non Android One devices in the same price range offer 2000 mAh battery backup. The build quality is inferior to Moto E or Xiaomi RedMi 1S. The USP of Unmodified Android technically called as Stock Android has already been taken by Moto E. On the whole, it does not seem to be a sure-shot success with its current value proposition. As of now it seems to be an ambitious project by Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President, Google.


Google’s Android, propelled by its open source nature and high customizability, has become the most dominant mobile operating system, with an estimated market share of 85% (IDC Q2 2014). Now the internet power house has launched a smartphone with a Quadcore processor, 5 Mega-pixel camera, 2 Mega-pixel front camera, FM Radio on a 4.5-inch FWVGA(480x854p)IPS display along with features like Dual-Sim & preloaded Google Apps - All at a price point of Rs.6399. Google has realised the potential of India to drive the smartphone market, serving as a launch platform for its mass-market devices and softwares – (Google messenger!!). The importance of the market can be gauged by the fact that Sundar Pichai, himself came to India to launch the smartphone. Google has already partnered with Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and chipmaker MediaTek, while hardware manufacturers like HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo and chipmaker Qualcomm are waiting in line to get a piece of the Android One pie. Android One itself, is like a reference platform where any OEM, such as Micromax or HTC can choose pre-qualified components and software to make their own version of the smartphone. Apart from keeping costs low and reducing time to market, this model enables smaller OEM at expense of larger ones such as Samsung. At this price point and hardware/software feature combination, Android One seems to offer “value for money” and an experience which will help it tap into the aspirations of users in a country where only 14.5% of the Mobile pie is owned by smartphones. Google’s strategy is to capture the exponentially increasing internet user market in Indian and get them on Android early on For Google, Android One seems to fit in as - A sure-shot success formula to reach the next 5 billion smartphone users!!!

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