Google is targeting emerging markets with its new Android One platform, and is debuting a number of new low-cost smartphones in Asia.
Android One is beneficial for Google, which is aiming to replace other versions of Android in Asia with its Android One, for a number of reasons. Here's why Android One may help Google own the smartphone segment in emerging markets.
An increasing number of companies have begun targeting the "other 5 billion," referring to those around the world who have yet to be really connected to modern telecom technology that is enjoyed in many countries. One of those companies is Facebook, which is taking steps to make Internet access available around the world.
But another one is Google and its newly launched Android One platform.
The first Android One offerings are powered by a MediaTek processor, run Google's latest operating system, Android 4.4 KitKat and, for the most part, cost around $100. They include dual-SIM slots, microSD capability, FM radios, have 4.5-inch screens, 1 GB of RAM, and have 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front cameras. And that's off-contract.
Google is running things a little differently with Android One than it would with other smartphones. Instead of original equipment manufacturers coming up with designs and hardware specs and then putting their own flavor of Android in them, Google is supplying OEMs with hardware specs and the devices run stock Android. This allows companies to offer extremely low-cost devices. It also allows Google to ensure that users around the world have access to its operating system, with Gmail, Google+ and the Google Play Store all an essential part of that.
That one-size-fits-all approach makes Android One what's called a reference platform, a set of rules manufacturers can follow to keep prices low and still run Google's software. Android One and KitKat for software make Google a contender in getting affordable phones to emerging markets.
This sets Google up to be the future of smartphones. While smartphone adoption in developed countries fueled global growth, we're past that now. Adoption of smartphones in developing countries will likely fuel another phase of such growth.
Smartphone sales are expected to reach the 1.2 billion unit mark this year, but by 2018 it is expected that sales of smartphones will hit a whopping 4 billion. Google is at the helm of this growth thanks, at least in part, to Android One.
Of course, the platform is also extremely beneficial to Google. With Android smartphones in the hands of billions more, use of Search and the Google Play Store will see a healthy increase, bringing revenue to Google.
Android One devices have already rolled out in India, with Google looking to do the same in the Philippines and Indonesia soon. Together these countries represent about 1.6 billion people.