Android One Launch in India: Similar Devices But a Different Initiative!

This is our second post in series of posts on the Google’s Android One program which we think will have significant implications on them mobile industry. Following is an additional perspective post-launch of Android One devices in India and what they mean for Indian consumers, mobile industry players and competition.

India is one of the fastest growing smartphone market in the Asia Pacific region and even globally. There is a significant portion of mobile user base in India which is shifting from feature phones to smartphones. Its billion of dollars in opportunity for number of players in the mobile ecosystem.

The battlefield has moved towards the better device experiences and vendors offering better experiences in the entry level smartphone market will be able to grab a bigger pie of this feature phone to smartphone shift. Hence, Google with its Android One launch in India today will leave no stone unturned to make best use of this opportunity in a country where it will try to avoid its market share to hit a plateau. With close to 94% market share in India smartphone market, Google knows the next level of growth will come from users who are either data hungry or are entering the smartphone ecosystem for the first time. Following closely the Google’s much awaited launch, following are some observations which might work in Google’s favor:

  • Improved User experience:  Defining standard hardware and latest software will ensure that Google will provide better device experience to the existing and first time smartphone users with later being the most critical.
  • Google services: Deeper Integration and wider reach of Google services to fist time smartphone users
  • Overcoming language barriers: Support for seven regional languages will ensure that it can adjust to the regional variation of device preferences in India.
  • Operator Support: The partnership with network operators like Airtel and Reliance communications to offer bundled data packs and free data for App and software downloads will surely grab some interest from end consumers.
  • Aggressive Pricing: Although today launches by Micromax, Karbonn and Spice lies between 6k-7k price band which won’t give these vendors immediate price advantage but Google has hinted that going forward it will launch devices both above and below this price band.

Though majority of the points might not act as a key differentiator for Android one devices but Google’s services and support along with improved user experience can be a master stroke going forward.

But then it’s not just Google sensing the opportunity arising out of  featurephone to smartphone shift but even more:

Competition: Lately we have seen the entry of Mozilla’s Firefox mobile OS in India promising to empower millions of Indians wanting to buy their first smartphone and Individual Chinese vendors like Xiaomi disrupting the price vs spec benchmarks with the entry level smartphone like Redmi 1S.Apart from this Microsoft with its newly aligned strategy is also aiming to breach lower price points.

New Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation  



 *Approx 80% of the installed device user base in India still uses featurephones

From the devices perspective, the benchmarks in India smartphone market is changing not over a quarter but almost after every smartphone launch. Post Moto G launch in India we have seen existing and new smartphone entrants in India breaching lower price points. This has ensured that even tier-1 brands like Samsung, Nokia, and others are feeling pressure to sacrifice device margins and bring their offerings to lower price points to compete with existing India and Chinese handset vendors. As a result, the high-volume sub 6k (or $100) retail smartphone market in India has become the most competitive among all price segments.

Below is a quick comparison of Android one with existing popular devices in India:

  Android One Xiaomi Redmi 1S Asus Zenphone 4 Motorola Moto E Nokia Lumia 530
Price  6,399 / $105 5,999 / $99 5,999 / $99 6,999 /$115 7,349 / $120
Screen Size 4.5 4.7 4 4.3 4
Pr Camera 5 8 5 5 5
Sec Camera 2 1.6 0.3 No No
Internal Memory (GB) 4 8 8 4 4
RAM (GB) 1 1 1 1 512
Processor (GHz) 1.3 1.6 1.2 1.2 1.2
Cores quad quad dual dual quad
Chipset Mediatek Qualcomm Intel Qualcomm Qualcomm
Battery Life (mAh) 1700 2000 1600 1980 1430

The above comparison shows that the Android one phones haven’t exactly surpassed the competition in specs benchmarks but the price vs spec war is only going to be more intense in future. To conclude, I believe Android one is a good initiative by Google especially at a time when festive season is around the corner but going forward it needs to breach lower price points faster as compared to its competitors and set benchmarks rather than chasing them.