Google will spend Rs100 crores for its 100$ smartphone of Android One
BANGALORE: Besides its technology know-how, Google is readying to put its considerable financial muscle behind its Android One smartphone-for-the-masses project, according to people aware of the company's plan. Google will spend more than Rs 100 crores with its partners on advertising and marketing for the $100 smartphone, an unprecedented push by a tech company to support device-makers who are committing to its software platform.
ET has also learnt the launch is planned in time for Diwali (October), when Sundar Pichai, the senior V-P at Google who is in charge of Android, Chrome and Apps, is expected to visit India. A Google representative said the firm will not be sharing any info beyond what was announced at the Google I/O developer conference last month.
"The smartphone market has become so competitive that you can't sneak into it. You need to enter with a splash. With launch cycles getting shorter, you get only one chance to make an impression," said Santosh Desai, MD & CEO of Futurebrands India Ltd.
Android One is Google's big emerging market bet to reach 5 billion people across the world. If the appetite for Motorola's new phones is any indication, the promise of a stock Android experience and the low price point will be a big draw for users. Google has sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo and is in the process of transferring this unit.
Motorola sold 1 million phones in barely 5 months from launch, by selling it exclusively through online retailer Flipkart. Vendors shipped 17.6 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2014, according to IDC, which tracks mobile phone shipments.
India was the fastest-growing smartphone market in Asia-Pacific, growing at over 186 per cent in the first quarter of 2014.
The Android One phones will be created and sold by homegrown phone makers such as Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. Google will supply hardware reference points for these companies to base the phone on. The company will also provide software and subsequent updates for the phones.
Pichai said at Google I/O that it has been working with Micromax to create the first of such phones with a 4.5 inch screen, dual SIM slot, FM radio and expandable memory. Other hardware manufacturers such as Intex and Celkon have also partnered with Google for Android One, ET reported on Monday.
Local partners will be allowed to pre-install apps on the phone. Google plans to launch Android One in other emerging markets such as Indonesia as well.
Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said that with hardware reference points supplied by Google, the time it takes to bring the devices to market will go down. "Lower price points will be great for a market like India where more than 70 per cent of sales still come from feature phones," said Gupta.
THE FACEBOOK THREAT
Indian Internet users have been quick to take to Facebook, which competes with Google for advertising dollars.
For the social network, India — a primarily mobile market — is now the second-largest user base outside of the US.