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Report: Android One not off to a smashing start

Competition from Xiaomi and Motorola had apparently hurt the success of Android One's launch in India. Some are predicting greater sales from now on however.

Published onNovember 18, 2014

android one

One. No, not The One, but another One. The ways things are going however, it might as well be The One That Could Have Been. We’re talking about Android One for reference, and, less things change quickly, that Monica(r) is going to be true.

First and foremost, for those that forgot, Android One was announced at Google I/O earlier this year, and with it, a promise that Mountain View would be handling all of the updates for these low-priced devices aimed at developing countries. Though some might not be aware, not one but three One devices launched in India mid-September, but the problem is not one of them has done well. Those trying to find out why need only look at Samsung’s plight: stiff competition.

2.5 percent of phones shipped in India in October were Android One

Consumer sales is a game of numbers, and for the last two weeks of September, a total of 230,000 units running Android One were imported into India. But it gets worse: only 200,000 devices were imported for the entire month of October, according to data shared with The Economic Times by local marketing firm Cybex Exim Solutions. To put things into even better perspective, “for the month of October, roughly 8 million smartphones were shipped into [India], of which Android One would be just about 2.5%,” a source told The Economic Times. Compare this with the extremely rosy expectations that were originally had.

Suffice to say, this is not good. Various conditions seem to have been at play here, including (1) overestimating demand, (2) supply problems from China, (3) extremely limited on-board storage -we’re talking 4GB total- and (4) the fact that said smartphones were initially only sold online. Compare this to any number of similar budget products released by Xiaomi and even Motorola which may have either better features or else lower prices.

Android One 001621

Google of course, remains confident, with a spokesperson reporting”very strong sales and consumer interest”, although Counterpoint Research Analyst Tarun Pathak remarked that, “the USP of Android One such as software updates and other Google services of the device were not publicised. That was another reason for the lukewarm response toward Android One devices.” So, here we have a problem of a sheer lack of marketing, such that consumers may not have realized these budget products were in fact, fully sanctioned Google devices.

Although by no means a decisive loss for the Android One platform, unless sales begin to pick up in the next few months, it’s possible that Google will end-up having to eat crow. As budget products get more consumer friendly, and as large OEMs begin to attach their names to them, the competition will only get more fierce. Likewise, this should be viewed as somewhat of a warning to companies like Samsung, as simply making cheap devices isn’t enough to win over customers.

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