Google says it won't ditch Android One, plans to offer country-specific devices

In an interview with Economic Times, Google's vice president of product management Caesar Sengupta reiterated the goals for Android One:

Many a times, we do stuff that is not about volumes but it's about advancing a point of view. Our goal here is to make sure that our end users are adapting to mobile experience and the next billion users have a good and compelling mobile experience.Within Google, we're very happy with the progress of Android One. We will continue to take a lot of learnings and keep doing it better in every market that we go to. In India, when we do the next set of devices and launches, you will find us doing that better.

Sengupta mentioned that the lukewarm sales of the first-generation devices was due to lack of offline retail availability at launch, and that upcoming handsets will be widely available:

We've learnt a lot from the initial round with our partners and they have learnt in terms of device availability, in channel and others. Overtime, as we work with our partners we will keep working on making sure that we do things much better.Initially, when we had launched, people couldn't buy them in all channels, that is something that we need to address. In our future (launches) with our partners, we want to make sure that we're truly available everywhere.

When asked if Google was looking to drop the Android One program altogether, Sengupta said:

No, we're not backing away from the program. We remain pretty committed to it. Android One is now in seven countries. Overall, we continue to work with OEMs (original equipment makers) across the board, local and large OEMs for bringing Android One's value proposition to many more markets. We are also thinking about specific phones for specific markets. We think of ourselves as more of a catalyst to the ecosystem. Android One is a very small part of Android, which is also what Google pushes.

Talking about Android One's roadmap, Sengupta said that upcoming devices will be offered across a wider price range, with partners likely to target the $100 to $200 segment.

Source: Economic Times

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • Chinese version please. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Google is blocked in China.
  • Do not underestimate India consumer. It is a big country with huge population. There was once when I was working with a MNC company8-9 years ago, With their reputable branded products, they target to produce 50millions low end, low end consumer products to penetrate the mass market.
    The whole project end up in a disaster. Sales volume was not even hitting 1 million. The mass market was looking for mid to high end products even though with their low income. This round, it is the trend and gadgets leads the market irregardless of price. True enough, competitors' mid and high end products capture the market during that time.
  • All I want is Android One in the western world. (USA, Europe). It would definitely help sales and give people more cheap options. Posted via my Nexus 6 from the Android Central App
  • For what it's worth, Karbonn sells the Sparkle V on Amazon UK.
  • Android One will not make an appearance in the western market as long as google have those rules in place. Google designed wants to run Android One similarly to how android wear is, where they control the updates, no customisation etc... While this maybe good for the end users, it's a terrible deal for the oem's. Why would you as an oem take all the risks only hand over complete control over to google and watch them expunge all the benefits and profits out of the deal, since google is after getting more users data and pushing ads. If google wants to do that they can, they don't need the oem's for that. That's essentially what the nexus program was. Android one will make an appearance in the western part of the world if google relax on some of those ridiculous rules of theirs or if they help bankroll it themselves. Outside of that, I don't see any oem taking on that risk, not when regular android is available.
  • Android One as far as I could tell was DOA when I read about it. It would have worked a few years ago, but not now, not after all the oem's learned their lessons with Android. Android One was born, not as a way to help the hardware oem's but to help google take over the Indian market and avoid what happened in China. What made it even worst is the fact that google had all those rules in place that would allow them to control everything while the hardware oem's took all the risks. To get all this leverage, google went to the small local players and try to sell them on the idea. There is a reason google did not go to the major established players like samsung and others and that's because those guys know better now and would have laugh in their faces. Google have done to the hardware oem's what Microsoft and Intel did and still doing to all the pc makers, which is: suck out all the profits for themselves while all the hardware oem's are fighting on bread crumbs in a commodity market. That's essentially what the current situation is in mobile with android. Outside of samsung (profits are still down by over 50%) just about every android oem's are either in the red or barely surviving. Those oem's have themselves to blame since none of them were ready to compete with the iphone, and the upsetting thing is after all those years, they have not made any inroads with that. That is basically why samsung profits have been going down by 50%+. They have no control over their destiny. It's also the reason I believe project "brillo" is also DOA. Those hardware oem's have built a lot of resentments and are not about to hand over the IOT platform to google again. As a user it will be painful, since that means every hardware oem's in the IOT space will try to have control over their own stuff this time, as a way to deal with commoditization down the road. It will also mean Mix and Match IOT hardware between different vendors will be limited if they will even allow their users to do so.
  • Micromax (one of the three launch partners for Android One and India's largest handset vendor) isn't struggling by any stretch of the imagination. What Google tried to do with Android One was bring a sense of order to the chaos that is the entry-level segment. The main selling point for these devices wasn't the hardware — which was standard fare — but timely updates. That was the differentiator, as there are mobiles available in India today that still run Jelly Bean out of the box. Where Google failed was marketing. At launch, the devices were online-only, leaving out a majority of users in the cold. Offline retail contributes to 70% of overall sales, more so in the budget segment as most buyers are reticent to buy handsets online. As for the so-called "rules", the turn-key solution allowed vendors to get the handsets out the door faster, and Google does not get a cut in the sales anyway. With regards to international vendors, HTC, Lenovo, ASUS and Qualcomm are all on-board.
  • Still does not answer the biggest question, why would any oem sign up for it? What's the incentive? I can see it for google and end users, but not for the manufactures. As for Micromax, they are doing great in shipping about 1 million devices per month, but very few if any at this point are android one. This is a cutthroat market, those hardware oem's are looking for profit margins and the ability to sell in volumes. Android one provide none of that while also taking away a big selling for them, which is customizations. Any oem would have to be brain dead to commit to that. Sure they will sign on a piece of paper and make some vague promise to ship devices but so far most of them outside of the initial launch window are MIA.
  • The incentive is that they don't have to design a device from the ground up, and they get free advertising from Google.
  • I guess google will have to try harder, because those things you listed are not going to cut it. Right now you don't need to start from the ground up in mobile. Foxconn made sure of that, and they are others. Foxconn last year signed patent deals so prospective clients would not even need to worry about that. They are essentially a one stop shop for anyone to show up and ship a device in 60-90 days. As for your second point, "free advertising from Google," I am sure all the current Android oem's are just lol at that one as a big incentive. The fact that this big initiative from Google have so far failed tells you everything you need to know, and it's not because of their lack of trying. It has failed so far because, as usual Google would be the big benefactor at the end while the oem's would be taken all the risk and fighting each other over bread crumbs.
  • I still don't see how Google is the benefactor here. The way I see it, Indian brands stand to gain more as they are now offering devices that get updates faster. Local vendors have thus far focused on launching out devices on a daily basis (over 1,200 devices were launched in the country last year), and it becomes a monumental task to update a majority of these devices to the latest version of Android. It may not matter if you switch devices once every six months, but most customers buying entry-level mobiles tend to stick with them for at least 18 months. This is where Google comes in. By taking care of the software side of things, it is alleviating a lot of the hassle faced by local vendors. They don't stand to lose anything by collaborating in the Android One initiative. Gets them attention on a larger scale and increases their brand loyalty with customers.
  • If you've use Android then you know the one thing most vendors don't want to deal with or care for is updates. There is a simple reason for that, they do not make a dime after the hardware sells. The relationship starts and stops with the sell. Google on the other hand will continue to take 30% on apps sales and on top of that continue to collect massive data (to feed their machine learning) and push ads to those users (their main business). Which incidentally google do not share back with those vendors. Android vendors don't care about updates because there is no incentive for them. For Apple it's great, but to think the same apply to the vendors on the android platform is crazy. Those vendors in India don't care about updates, they just want to sell devices at volume and move on. That's the market they are in, worrying about update will only add costs (which they can't afford) and resources (which they don't have).
  • Hmmm...somebody slightly overestimated sales on getting the "next billion" online, when they can't even get the first 1 millon there. Take two?
  • Xiaomi will serve the next billion not Android one, They have already reached top 5 position in Indian smartphone market within a year of launch and should reach Top 3 within next 2 years. Even local companies like Micromax have launched new sub-brands like Yuphoria-cyanogen to compete with Xiaomi as the main market disruptor is Xiaomi not Android One, even Asus Zenfones and Lenovo smartphones are selling in Millions compared to spectacular failure that is Android One.
  • I request Android Central to please include android one devices in your forums.Pllleaas.Please.Please look down to low end android one devices as well instead of always posting about high end devices in Samsung S series and Nexus line
  • Google should have included Asia for the android one program and work with Chinese manufacturers like asus, huawei, meizu, oppo, or even one plus. This will give them an edge to enter china when they sort out with the Chinese govt.