Google just launched Android One in India, a program that aims to bring a quality mobile experience to the remaining five billion people that don’t have a smartphone yet.
Google used the occasion to announce another treat for Indian users – offline access to most YouTube videos, a feature coming over the next weeks.
Here’s what Google VP for Product Management Caesar Sengupta had to say about the new feature:
“YouTube is popular here. You watch some videos again and again. How awesome would it be if you could keep watching them again and again without having to pay for data, and take the videos with you wherever you go. Within the coming few weeks, much of YouTube will be available offline in India. This is huge, and our users will really, really like this. You can download a video once, save it to your phone, and watch it again and again.”
This new feature applies to all types of content, not just music videos. YouTube is reportedly working on a music subscription service called Music Key that would allow users to download clips for offline usage. Apparently, the feature announced today for India is unrelated to Music Key.
It’s not clear yet how YouTube will monetize offline video views.
Google is launching this feature in India first because of this market’s peculiarities. There are 900 million phone users in India, but only 10 percent have smartphones. Even among smartphone users, access to high-speed wireless internet is limited. With Android One smartphones (for which Google pays data used for updates and up to 200MB worth of apps, if you use an Airtel SIM) and offline YouTube videos, Google is clearly hoping to attract more people who, until now, were not able to get online.
It remains to be seen if Google will extend offline video availability to other developing countries or even to mature markets like the US.