Android One Connects

Data and Device Bundle Sweetens the Deal

Android_One_lGoogle has unveiled Android One devices in India with local manufacturer partners Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. The three handset makers each introduced a device priced at 6,399 rupees ($105). Sales will start online today and in shops next month. Unsurprisingly, the smartphones have nearly identical hardware specifications — an indication of Google’s control over the platform.

Each of the phones is has dual-SIM support, an FM radio, a 4.5-inch screen, a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, a five-megapixel main camera, a two-megapixel front-facing camera, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage and a microSD slot. They support 3G, GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and pre-installed apps include Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Translate and YouTube. Google also announced additional Android One partnerships with Acer, Alcatel OneTouch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lenovo, Panasonic and Xolo as the platform is driven across other developing markets.

Google’s partnership with Indian operator Airtel is noteworthy: Android One users with an Airtel SIM card will get free over-the-air updates for the device as well as 200MB of app downloads from Google Play per month for an initial six-month period. Google is also introducing a feature that supports offline storage and playback of YouTube videos (saving on subscriber data costs) and improved data compression in the platform’s browser.

Google’s goal to reduce Android fragmentation and drive down costs should work to introduce more users to Google services. This will act a further challenge to competing platform vendors like Microsoft. Google is calling the new Android One-based smartphones “true computing devices”. The low level of fixed Internet connectivity in India means there’s significantly less multi-device ownership in the region than in developed markets, so Google’s proclamation that Android One will act as a computing platform for the next billion isn’t hyperbole.