They keynote address at Google I/O 2014 has just begun, and after an introduction that was basically about how great Android is doing, Sundar Pichai introduced a new program that I’m very excited about – the Android One project!
The basic idea behind the Android One project is offer the billions of consumers in various emerging markets around the world easy access to a smartphone. The first step in this process involves Google building a set of hardware reference platforms, where Google identifies vendors that manufacture high-quality but affordable components for smartphones, giving OEMs a way to provide consumers with great devices at affordable price points.
In addition to hardware, things will be different on the software front as well. Instead of depending on OEMs and carriers for software updates, updates will be available directly from Google, the same a Nexus or Google Play Edition device gets their updates. Of course, the software experience will also be stock Android, with full Google apps support. OEMs will be able to add locally-relevant apps to their devices, but through Google Play.
Beginning with device manufacturers in India, the first Android One smartphone will be made by Micromax. With features that include a 4.5-inch display, dual SIM support, microSD card support, and FM radio, all for less than $100, this initial Android One device may be quite similar to what is already available in India. However, the promise of fast updates to the latest Android version is absolutely great. Google is partnering with OEMs such as Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice to produce the first Android One devices.
Android One is definitely a great way to address the fragmentation issue that keeps coming up, as it’s usually these low-cost devices available in India and other emerging markets that still run Android 4.0, or even Android 2.3, with no updates available. With the possibility of updates directly from Google, Android One completely changes the game when it comes to affordable smartphones.
Android One smartphones are expected to become available in the fall, at a price point less than $100!
This looks a lot like Android Silver, but given its focus on developing markets, we believe that Android One is a complementary program aimed at raising the standard of quality at the bottom end of the Android scale, rather the replacement to the Nexus series we’ve been hearing about.
What are your thoughts on the Android One project? Let us know in the comments section below.