Google targets Android One reboot, aims to hit 'sweet spot' of sub-$50 smartphones

Earlier this year, Google said that it would be targeting a higher price point with Android One, offering phones that cost above $150. The search giant followed through on its word, delivering the Pixel V1, a $185 Android One handset with a 5.5-inch HD display, quad-core MediaTek CPU, 2GB RAM and 32GB storage made in collaboration with Indian vendor Lava Mobiles. It looks like Google is setting its sights on the entry-level segment, with the search giant aiming to offer phones for as low as Rs. 2,000 ($31).

In an interview with the Financial Times, Rajan Anandan, managing director for Google South-East Asia and India, revealed that the focus is now on delivering a sub-$50 handset, which he termed would be the "sweet spot" in India's competitive budget segment. Citing supply chain constraints, Anandan said that Android One has "not delivered to expectations" thus far, and that the program will be rebooted in the "next few weeks:"

It is like any company when you try to launch a new initiative — we had a few hiccups.

Google launched Android One in India last year to target the "next billion" users, but the initiative failed to get off the ground largely due to limited advertising and online-only purchases. In a country where offline retailers outsell online stores three to one — with that number going even higher when talking about the entry-level segment, Google has failed to establish a presence in the offline market, a move it said it would address with upcoming launches.

Anandan also talked about services tailored to the Indian market, citing the launch of YouTube's offline mode and a version of Google Maps optimized for low-bandwidth connectivity. He mentioned that Google will be investing heavily to bring small-scale businesses online and facilitate content that allows users to communicate in their local languages:

Strategically it [India] is very, very important. Don't get me wrong, the revenue is interesting but . . . we're here really because 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.

We'll know more about Google's plans for Android One in the coming weeks.

Source: Financial 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.