Seldom has a global technology company launched a global product or programme in Asia. On 15 September, at an event that rivalled its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google Inc. did precisely that when it launched the first family of three Android One phones in India as part of a larger initiative to bring “high-quality smartphones at affordable prices, to as many people as possible”, with support for local languages.
According to Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and chief executive of Greyhound Research, Google Android One is going to be a “game changer in India”. Google’s goal is to reach the next five billion people in emerging markets and a billion in India, which would give it an edge over Microsoft, Apple and BlackBerry, said Gogia, adding that Android One gives Google tighter control over Google OS which means a standardized user interface.
Support for seven regional languages will give it a further edge over competitors, not only helping consumers use vernacular, but also is likely to help in promoting apps in regional languages, said Gogia.
He pointed out that in India, less than 10% of the population access smartphones, with a price lower that $100. “That said, price alone does not drive demand,” said Gogia.
Gogia believes Google can expect competition “but none has the wherewithal like Google to be as aggressive and invest heavily in the ecosystem—FireFox and Tizen (Samsung’s mobile OS) are competition but far from reaching critical volume”.
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