Google launches $105 Android One for Third World countries

“Google Inc launched in India on Monday a $105 smartphone, the first device from its ‘Android One’ initiative which is aimed at boosting sales in key emerging markets through cheaper prices,” Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Tommy Wilkes report for Reuters. “The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian handset makers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the 6,399 rupees phone, which is powered by Google’s operating system and targets the booming low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.”

“After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015,” Bhattacharjee and Wilkes report. “Currently, many cheap smartphones in India and other emerging markets run different and somewhat customised versions of the Android operating system. The many variations they produce make the phones prone to glitches, and leave Google with almost no control over its platform.”

“There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if Google wants to compete with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi, which all make similarly priced devices,” Bhattacharjee and Wilkes report. “‘The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,’ said Counterpoint’s Shah.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When others shortsightedly race to the bottom, Apple always wins.

As we explained way back in November 2012:

Android is pushed to users who are, in general:

a) confused about why they should be choosing an iPhone over an inferior knockoff and therefore might be less prone to understand/explore their devices’ capabilities or trust their devices with credit card info for shopping; and/or
b) enticed with “Buy One Get One Free,” “Buy One, Get Two or More Free,” or similar offers.

Neither type of customer is the cream of the crop when it comes to successful engagement or coveted demographics; closer to the bottom of the barrel than the top, in fact. Android can be widespread and still demographically inferior precisely because of the way in which and to whom Android devices are marketed. Unending BOGO promos attract a seemingly unending stream of cheapskate freetards just as inane, pointless TV commercials about robots or blasting holes in concrete walls attract meatheads and dullards, not exactly the best demographics unless you’re peddling muscle-building powders or grease monkey overalls.

Google made a crucial mistake: They gave away Android to “partners” who pushed and continue to push the product into the hands of the exact opposite type of user that Google needs for Android to truly thrive. Hence, Android is a backwater of second-rate, or worse, app versions that are only downloaded when free or ad-supported – but the Android user is notoriously cheap, so the ads don’t sell for much because they don’t work very well. You’d have guessed that Google would have understood this, but you’d have guessed wrong.

Google built a platform that depends heavily on advertising support, but sold it to the very type of customer who’s the least likely to patronize ads.

iOS users are the ones who buy apps, so developers focus on iOS users. iOS users buy products, so accessory makers focus on iOS users. iOS users have money and the proven will to spend it, so vehicle makers focus on iOS users. Etcetera. Android can have the “Hee Haw” demographic. Apple doesn’t want it or need it; it’s far more trouble than it’s worth.

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Apple’s iOS dominates in richer countries, Android in poorer regions – March 25, 2014
IDC: Apple iPhone to maintain high value, margins, and market share through 2018 – February 28, 2014
Why Apple’s iPhone keeps raking in the majority of mobile phone profits – March 19, 2014
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IDC data shows two thirds of Android’s 81% smartphone share are cheap junk phones – November 13, 2013
IDC: Android worldwide smartphone market share passes 80% – November 12, 2013
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Study: iPad users more likely to buy – and buy more – online than traditional PC users – September 29, 2011
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Yankee Group: Apple iPhone owners shop more, buy more, remain more loyal vs. other device users – July 20, 2010
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Study: Apple iPhone users richer, younger, more productive than other so-called ‘smartphone’ users – June 12, 2009
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25 Comments

    1. Not from what I can see. The headline says that this phone is for Third World countries. I did not see anything in the article saying that they planned to release the phone to any fifth rate nation.

  1. Google can afford these initiatives because they have hundreds of millions of Apple users who still use their search engine on both iOS and the Mac. If Apple were to launch its own search engine and siphon away these lucrative customers, it would begin to drain Mountain View’s coffers. Apple needs to hit the Android alliance on two fronts: strip away their premium hardware customers (as they’re doing with iPhone 6 and Plus) and then strike at the search engine which powers the Google machine. Offering myriad ways to search without Google is a big plus, such as the expanded search options in iOS 8. But until the people get an engine powered by the Apple brand, one of the few they can still trust, they won’t turn away from Google.

    1. i use duck duck go, but you can also change the default search engine setting to bing or yahoo

      safari prefs -> general-> default search engine -> change to yahoo or bing

  2. There are plenty of cheap Android devices in America below $100 as it is (i.e. without this “Android One”). I occasionally see them in NYC too (mostly unskilled workers, such as cleaning and maintenance staff at office buildings, or fast food workers).

    Apple has been successfully walking the delicate balance between market share and profit share. Many compare this to auto industry, associating Apple with BMW or Audi, or Ferrari. The comparison works to a point, since for an iPhone, unlike BMW, you need plenty of third-party software to complete the picture (and BMW’s value isn’t dependent on the contributions of third-party after-market products).

    The ecosystem built by Apple continues to hold major appeal to developers. Helped by the significant advantage in disposable income, Apple continues to attract solid majority of developers, and their effort is clearly more complete and thorough for the iOS than for the other platforms.

    I’m sure Android will continue to grow market share faster than Apple (there are many more people who are able to afford $100 than those who can afford $550) but it may be a long while before developers begin to notice a relative balance between the value of the two platforms, and even longer before the balance begins tilting in Android’s favour.

  3. How the hell are they making any money. They gotta be selling them at a loss.
    You’d think they would learned from the computer makers, who have been losing money, because they sell at a loss, in hopes of making money on software and such. Does Google really hope to make back what’s lost on adds from people who can’t afford to but much extra.

      1. In the US, Google makes many hundreds of dollars per user by collecting the Android/Google users data to build detailed profiles to sell to their real customers. Why haven’t people realized that the buyers of Android products are not the customer, they are the product? It makes perfect sense to give away the android device in order to collect many hundreds of dollars per year by selling the information collected by those devices.

        1. Google hopes to get every secret intimate knowledge it can on billions of unsuspecting rubes in India. They can use that to shake every last coin from them, and finally turn the rubes over to data-empowered Nazi police in India to remove undesirables and establish absolute control. Just like Google wants here.

  4. This will amount to nothing, as the article says there’s already cheap phones – many selling for $50 or less – that are not any more glitchy than the stock Android is…

    Indian manufacturers just won’t be able to compete with Chinese makers like ZTE on price and the Chinese makers always use Android forks to avoid going through Google’s certification requirements and control.

  5. I just want to say, without judgement. If any company wants to service the low income population, they should be able to do it with out prejudice. It’s not supposed to be in the name of competition but out of general concern for equality.

    With that said, I think it’s unfair to prey on the lower income (not poor) with the intent to spy on them and in return squeeze every last cent from them. (I specifically do not want to say people are poor, as that is a subjective term)

    I suggest that they should be served with dignity. The original intent of One Laptop Per Child was admirable. However the notion has been tainted, because most organizations are not philanthropic, they are opportunistic.

    So, let’s call a duck a duck.

    Slam me if you must, but be correct in what you say.

    1. What does a phone have to do with equality? The less fortunate don’t have a phone..gee lets let them pretend they are more fortunate by giving them a phone. Really? That’s your answer for helping the needful?

      If you really want help or make an impact, go get your hands dirty by working & teaching in their countries and communities. Set them up with medical and academic resources. Phones are just a distraction to people in need resources & mentors..

      1. You are right, if the society is that impoverished. But my understanding wasn’t that the intended customer was impoverished, which is a whole different matter. I was thinking of people who have work, food, shelter and clothing, yet are stuck. They can’t afford technology and bring themselves up. My point was to bringing them technology, should not be at the expense of the meager gains they have already achieved. It should be within their means.

        If people are living without basic needs, starving, they have no means. They need a cheap source of clean water, clothing and shelter, before you hand them technology.

  6. Woooow finally a smart phone for the poor … Wait, why the hell do they need to do that if most of the poor people already have an android device.. And those who has not is because they may be poor but they still have some dignity.
    This new version of the poor’s people phone is just like the Microsoft “kin”.

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