At an event that would rival its own I/O developer event held in the US, Google Inc. on Monday launched the first set of Android One phones in India as part of a larger initiative to bring high-quality smartphones at affordable prices, with support for local languages.
According to Sanchit Gogia, chief analyst and chief executive of Greyhound Research, “Google Android One is going to be a game-changer in India. Their goal is to reach next 5 billion people in emerging markets and a billion in India. This gives them an edge as compared with Microsoft Corp., Apple and Blackberry Ltd.”
“Android One gives Google tighter control over its operating system, which means standardized user interface. Support for seven regional languages is going to be a solid plus over competitors — this will not only help consumers use vernacular, it’s also likely to help promote apps in regional languages,” Gogia added.
He explained that in India, only less than 10% population has access to smartphones, with a price lower than $100. That said, price alone does not drive demand.
“What is missing till now is education on the ground — once Google decides to sell via retail model, more on-the-ground education about Android One will help promote the platform,” he added.
Gogia believes that Google can expect competition, but none has the wherewithal like Google to be as aggressive and invest heavily in the ecosystem. FireFox and Tizen are competition but far from reaching critical volumes. Firefox (in partnership with Spice and Intex) launched two new smartphones, priced below Rs.2,300, aimed at those looking to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones.
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