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.

  • How about a version of Google maps for offline use HERE? Like true offline maps on my sd card. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That is coming later this year with the launch of Android M. Google has already announced it. Just use HERE Maps until then :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Screw HERE maps. They left me and my wife stranded in Montreal. We had to go to a Tim Horton's and get on WiFi to get Maps to cache so that we could get to our AirBNB in the dark.
  • What's that have to do with the article? Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is clever and hopefully it spreads to other areas as well that need it.
  • It feels like Google doesn't really believe in advertising *anywhere*. It's as if they expect all their products to go viral like Maps and Gmail did once upon a time... The space is now more crowded and their products aren't heads and shoulders above everyone else as once before, so some branding and advertising would be nice... Posted via the Android Central App
  • This focus on low cost Android phones needs to stop. Manufacturers are not making money as it is, how are they expected to make money on a $50 dollar phone. If Google wants manufacturers to sell phones for this amount they need to subsidise the phone makers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They're not forcing anyone to do anything. If companies don't think they'll make money then they shouldn't be getting involved Posted via the Android Central App
  • Google is not interested in how much phone manufacturers are making as long as the end user is using Google services. Apart from Samsung, virtually all Android manufacturers are losing money. This cannot be good for the long term development of mobile phones. Companies need to make a profit in order to spend money on research and development otherwise mobile phones will not improve. Also companies that are operating at a loss take profits away from responsible companies who try to price their products to generate a sensible return on their investment, putting these companies at risk too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Here you go again with the same myth. The only Android OEMs that are losing money are HTC, Motorola and Sony. Motorola will be profitable by 2016. Samsung, LG, Huawei, Lenovo, Asustek, Karbonn and ZTE all make hundreds of millions per year on Android devices. Several other companies like Acer, Kyocera, Oppo and Blu make tens of millions on Android devices. And as the cost of components, i.e. SOCs, displays and memory, goes down, that number will increase. When will people stop using arguments from 2013?
  • "how are they expected to make money on a $50 dollar phone" The same way that Apple makes money on $45 iPods. If they cost $25 to manufacture and $10 to distribute, that still leaves $15 per device for profit. If you sell 1 million devices at $15 per device, that is $15 million in profits. Sell 10 million and that is $150 million. Sell 50 million and that is $750 million. Yes, that is probably as much as Apple makes in a week, but not everyone is trying to be Apple. That is the point. Seriously, just because King Apple is the primary competition, people all of a sudden want to start forgetting the fact that cheap electronics devices have always existed. And if you ask me, that should be Google's main goal anyway. Stop making Apple the reference point to which all other smartphones are compared to. Google is stuck with Apple being the default in America because Apple got to the market first. But in other countries, Google has the ability to define the market. If they can do so by getting people used to the idea that a smartphone should cost $100 or less, then when Apple sets up shop there 3-5 years from now (which they will do) folks will think that it is nuts to pay 5-10 times as much for the same product. Think about it: not everyone had to be Rolex either. Companies made a lot of money being Casio, Timex and Armitron. Not everyone had to be Porsche or BMW: Ford and GM made a ton of money too. Folks who claim otherwise are basically Apple fans who believe that competition is illegitimate. That was Samsung's problem. They tried to compete with Apple rather than trying to make as much money as they could by selling as many phones as they could. What Motorola is now doing with the X, G and E, as well as what OnePlus and Asus are doing, Samsung could have done 3-4 years ago. Instead, Samsung tried to make the Note and S lines "premium brands". That is a losing strategy when everyone already associates you with washing machines, refrigerators and (often inexpensive) TVs and VCRs. Samsung was never even going to be IBM or AT&T, let alone Apple. Google needs to partner with companies who want to make money selling as many phones as possbile, not people who want to be respected by the western media and the fashion/status crowd. If finding the right Android One partners is the way to do it, then so be it. Give people 5 inch 720p screens, 4 GB of storage with SD card slots (remember Android M is going to start treating SD storage as native storage), 1 GB of RAM and a turnkey 1.2 GHz quad core SOC with all of the radios for $50. Before you roll your eyes, that is what people were paying $600 for just 3 years ago.
  • Preach! Posted via Xperia Z3
  • IMO, in your haste to jump on his complaint with the rush down to zero you failed to take into account something that's been bugging me with Google and it's Android One push. Outside of North America and parts of Europe, Google's control on Android is basically non existent and by all account Apple with it's minuscule footprint plays a bigger role in Asia than Google. Don't get me wrong, android is all the rage there, just not the one control by Google and it's services. That is the single reason why Android One exist, to try to rectify that problem. The problem for Google with android one and the reason why it has failed so far and will continue to fail is that it does not address a single problem any of those oem's in India have. Android One is great for Google, it's even a better deal for the end user's since it would unify somewhat the fragmentation and address the update issues that plague android, but it does absolutely nothing for the hardware oem's. The current oem's do not have a problem selling cheap phones, they are already selling plenty of devices at or below that price running AOSP android with no problem. What exactly does android one do for them? It's not just that, Android One also come with some string attached, that eventually turns those oem's into Google's bit***s. Why would any of those oem's signed up for that deal when they have no incentive to do so? Android One is not trying to solve those oem's problems, but instead aimed at solving Google's problem in the Asian markets, which is why it has failed so far. @crosslad17 is right, in that if Google really want Android One to take off, they are going to have to pay or at the very least incentivize them in some other way. Right now, as an outsider I see no reason why those oem's in India should get behind Android One, where once that happens, Google will be the one extracting all the values post sale.
  • " Outside of North America and parts of Europe, Google's control on Android is basically non existent and by all account Apple with it's minuscule footprint plays a bigger role in Asia than Google. " With all due respect, you are simply false. This is just another one of your many "why Google is doomed" posts, and when people respond to you with FACTS you disappear. If Google's control over Android is basically nonexistent outside of North America and parts of Europe, then why is the #1 country for Google Play Store revenue is Japan and the #3 country for Google Play Store is South Korea, and the #5 country for Google Play store is Taiwan. Also, the #2 country for Google Play store downloads is Brazil, and the #3 is India. So as usual, you Apple fanboys HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT and should restrict yourselves to talking about the one platform that you do understand and care about. The only place where "Google has no control over Android" is China, and that is because in China Google services are illegal. The reason is that China wanted to stop Google from having the same dominance there as it has elsewhere, so it is using governmental action to favor its own tech sector. Basically the same tactic that the EU is now using with their monopoly lawsuits. But even that is about to come to an end soon, as Google's partnership with Huawei is now going to give Google a way to sell Play Store apps in China also. You Apple fanboys keep talking about the threat that AOSP vendors pose to Google ... the reality is that outside of China, without the Google Play Store, Android phones are worthless. So, the AOSP vendors bundle the Google Play Store and Google Play Services on their devices that they sell outside of China. Xiaomi's AOSP phones do not have Google Play services in China, but they have them in India and Brazil. Why? Because without Google Play services, people in Brazil, India etc. would not be able to acquire apps or do anything else that makes their phones useful. The AOSP vendors have their own Chinese app stores and services, but they lack the reach, money and expertise to offer apps and services outside of China, and the Chinese apps and services are useless outside of China, as anyone who has ever bought a cheap AOSP device off the Internet can attest to. The funny thing: even Paranoid Android, Cyanogen and the other companies that claim to be trying to compete with and take over Android from Google make it very easy to install Google services on their devices, because they know that if they didn't, no one would want them! That is why your claim "current oem's do not have a problem selling cheap phones, they are already selling plenty of devices at or below that price running AOSP android with no problem. What exactly does android one do for them? It's not just that, Android One also come with some string attached, that eventually turns those oem's into Google's " is detached from reality. Google's services keeps them from having them to offer their own services in the countries that they are trying to expand to. Were the OEMs to try to offer apps and services in places like Turkey, the Phillippines, Brazil, Thailand etc. do you have any idea how long it would take for them to make a profit? "where once that happens, Google will be the one extracting all the values post sale" What you do not get is that outside of China, there IS no value to be extracted post sale, or at least not enough that would allow Karbonn and the other OEMs to make a profit. Android One failed because A) the phones were too expensive for their terrible specs and B) most people didn't know that they existed. Google spent ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY marketing the phones and only sold them online. And even there, they managed to move a million overpriced phones that practically no one knew existed. So if Google actually competes on price and actually advertises the phones, they could go from 1 million to 10 million in a year. But that is something that someone who is convinced that in their heart everyone wants an iPhone will never be able to wrap his head around.
  • Take a deep breath... Your passionate argument still does not address the number one problem with android one. What's in it for the oem's? Until that is address, android one will continue to fail, much to your dismay. What is your insistence in bringing Apple into this? You seem to be the only one who keep bringing them into this conversation. Stop pulling a samsung with your Apple obsession.
  • You brought Apple into it, actually. And what do OEMs have to gain? Sales of a known commodity OS on their hardware. Company X won't be able to make an iOS device, but they can damn sure make an Android one.
  • I bring Apple into this because you are an Apple fanboy who each day comes with the same "Google is doomed" argument and never responds to any actual point. Are you going to rescind your false claim that Google has no presence in Asia? Of course not. You are going to keep making that false claim in other posts like you always do with your other false claims. What's in it for the other OEMs? I already told you. They get to sell devices that they otherwise would not. And I could care less whether Android One succeeds or not. Why? Because unlike you, I know that the success of Xiaomi is good for the platform. It is only you Apple fanboys who continue to falsely claim that Xiaomi is not part of the Google handset alliance and that Xiaomi's phones sold outside China do not have Google apps on them. They do. So whether Xiaomi, Motorola, Oppo, Lenovo, Samsung or Android One phones sell in Asia, Africa and Latin America IT DOES NOT MATTER BECAUSE IT IS GOOD FOR ANDROID.
  • Get a life. Get a hobby, better yet, get a job. Why do you have so much time to write such a long response. Toliet breaks over, going back to work ;)
  • You don't know my typing speed fella.
  • Don't think I brought Apple into the discussion. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Apple is always the invisible 800lbs gorilla in all mobile conversation, you should know that by now.
  • 4gb does not work on Android. I tried it with a Moto E, now I don't even have enough storage space to update the few apps I have on it. After a year the phone is grinding to a halt even when I clear the cache on a regular basis. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You tried it with a 2013 Moto E running KitKat. A 2015 Moto E running Android M will be a totally different animal because Android M will not distinguish between internal and external storage. So you will be able to sell the 4 GB device for $50 and let the customer buy a 32 GB SD card for $10 (or a 16 GB SD card for even less). Google removed true SD card support from Jellybean, then spent years trying to get customers in North America, western Europe, Japan and South Korea to pay for cloud storage and failed. So now they are retooling and putting SD card support back in so that they can compete in developing and third world countries on price. That idea is far more likely to actually work.
  • Wow, a reboot already?
  • Not surprise it failed the first time. It does nothing for the oem's there while trying to address all of Google's issues in the area. This is a self-serving Google project. If those oem's learned anything from the pc and the mobile market so far, they will continue to stay away from Android One.
  • "If those oem's learned anything from the pc and the mobile market so far, they will continue to stay away from Android One." False. These oems know that
    A) Android is their only shot at survival. See Nokia, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Phone, Ubuntu, Firefox, Sailfish, WebOS etc.
    B) that you can make BILLIONS selling devices from a licensed OS, just like Lenovo, Toshiba, HP and Dell do with Windows PCs. Just like Samsung, LG and Huawei do with Android phones (and more still companies make hundreds of millions)
    Just as Asus, Acer, HP etc. do with Chromeboks They also know that they will make far more money with Android than they will by doing what Apple fanboys want them to do and stay out of the mobile business altogether, which is to make ABSOLUTELY NOTHING That's the deal. You can either make Windows PCs, Chromebooks, Android phones and tablets and make some money, or sit on the sidelines and talk about how impossible it is to compete with mighty Apple AND MAKE NOTHING. Shockingly, there are PLENTY of companies that choose to make SOMETHING over making NOTHING. PLENTY of companies who don't equate not making as much money as Apple does with FAILURE. And that is why these companies aren't going to help give Apple the monopoly that their fans desperately crave but Apple themselves doesn't even want. That is the funny thing. Apple doesn't even want the market share dominance that Apple fanboys want Apple to have. Apple doesn't even want the billions of potential customers that selling devices for $200 might get them. They wanted them for the iPod back when that device was key to Apple's survival, but now that Apple is the #1 company on the planet, they have no interest in selling devices to people that they won't make a barrel of money on. Everyone else, meanwhile, is more than glad to service that segment of the market.
  • Again with your Apple obsession. I am not arguing against android, I am arguing about what's in it for the oem's in adopting android one (which is to address google's problem) vs what they are currently using (AOSP)? That's been my argument has been all along. You keep bringing Apple into this, for reason I have yet to comprehend. I am arguing android one does not solve a problem the oem's have, but instead it's addressing google's shortcoming in the area.
  • The addition of the Play Store. That's big.
  • And again, I am bringing Apple into this because you are an Apple fanboy who daily makes the same false arguments about how Google and Android are going to collapse despite being corrected. Also, for the millionth time. No one is using straight AOSP because straight AOSP doesn't even include basic email, let alone apps for maps, music, web browsing, social networking OR AN APP STORE. If you had actually bought an AOSP device or even so much as installed AOSP on a virtual machine, you would know this. AOSP is actually a worse deal than a feature phone. So if a company is selling AOSP Android, they have to bundle their own apps and services to make the phone usable. That only works in China where the AOSP vendors get subsidies from the Chinese government and don't have to compete with Google. But outside of China it doesn't work. How many times do I have to tell you the same thing before you start listening?
  • Wonder what the import cost is Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've seen some cheap phones but all are laggy because of the software. Maybe my brothers will use this more than thier crap ipods Posted via the Android Central App
  • Cool. I'll take three, please.