It would probably be fair to say that the Android One program hasn’t quite had the impact that Google was hoping for. Despite offering some rather good hardware at a reasonable price, the low-cost local competition ended up offering better value for money, updates seemed delayed and the second wave of phones never really materialized. According to a recent interview with Rajan Anandan, Google’s managing director for India and Southwest Asia, the initiative is scheduled for some necessarly changes, including the possibility of even cheaper handsets.
Anandan admitted that the program had “not delivered to expectations” so far, amid supply chain issues and phone import shortages from China. Importantly though, he wants to retarget Android One and the Android operating system at the “sweet spot” of India’s cost-conscious market, with smartphones preferably priced between just Rs. 2,000 and 3,000 ($30 – $47), rather than around $100 or greater.
Even lower cost smartphones packed with an up to date Android OS are likely to be a tempting prospect. However, cost is just a small part of Google’s plans to win over more customers in India. The company is facing tough competition from companies designing software that is compatible with some of the slower data connections in the country and Google is still yet to properly cater for locals who don’t speak English as their first language.
“There are several battlegrounds where we are not winning [and] local search is clearly the one where it’s most apparent,” – Rajan Anandan
To combat these issues, Google is looking to invest in a program to bring small local businesses online and develop more products that work with slower data connections. Google recently launched offline versions of YouTube and Maps in India, along with a slimmed down version of its search engine. These ideas may help the company compete with the growing local start-ups, which is important for Google if it wants to be influential when the next billion Indian consumers enter the mobile market.
“10 years from now a billion Indians will be online and when we have a billion Indians online we think that’s going to make a huge difference to the global internet economy.”
This is all part of a long-term plan for Google, which will see the company working with manufacturers to help bring even more affordable and high-quality devices to market over the next few years. Android One could probably use a jump-start to put the project back on track, does this plan sound like a smart idea to you?