Google Inc today launched in India a Rs 6,399 Android One phone capable of Internet access, as it looks to win customers in the world’s fastest growing smartphone market with low prices and better quality software. Powered by Google’s operating system, the handsets, made by Micromax, Karbonn Mobiles India and Spice Mobility will be available online on Amazon’s India website and at Flipkart and Snapdeal.
The smartphone features a MediaTek quad-core processor and a 4.5-inch screen. With Android One, Google aims to improve the quality of hardware and software by giving handset makers a frame of reference. Currently, many affordable smartphones in India already offer customised versions of the Android operating system. In case of Android One, the eventual software upgrades on the Android One phones would come directly from Google.
This would give Google better control of the operating system and ensure users get a consistent service. In coming days, Google said it will allow users to watch YouTube videos offline in India. We expect India to be the second largest Internet market by 2017, said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president at the Mountain View, California-based tech company. India is the first country where Google’s Android One devices are being launched. Roll out across other markets like Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka will follow in the coming months. Google is also expanding Android One programme with Acer, Alcatal OneTouch, Xolo, HTC, Lava, Intex, Asus and Lenovo. It has also roped in Qualcomm for the chipsets.
Micromax will sell its handset on Amazon, while Flipkart and Snapdeal will be exclusively selling Spice and Karbonn merchandise, respectively. Besides, to help drive data usage Google has partnered with Airtel for free data. India is one of the fastest growing Android markets globally. In 2013-14, it saw more than 3 times growth. Internet can have a transforming effect. The intent is to take Internet to the next billion people, Pichai told reporters here.
Declining to comment on future pricing of the handsets with new partners, Pichai said the idea is to give multiple choice to consumers. In June, Google announced its ‘Android One’ initiative to bring in under-USD 100 handsets aimed at bringing the next one billion population to the Android operating system ecosystem. The dual-SIM devices will sport a 4.5-inch screen with a quad core MediaTek processor, 1 GB RAM and 4 GB internal storage, which can be expanded to 32 GB.
It will feature a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 2 MP front camera with replaceable battery and built-in radio. Analysts feel Android One will lead a fiercer competition in the mid-range smartphone market with firms offering better experience at price points in the range of Rs 6,000-10,000.
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