Google knew it’d be forcing Samsung into a desperate price war in India when it launched Android One program, its hardware and software reference design manufacturers can use to produce phones and sell them at budget rates. This is earth-shattering for Samsung considering that it’s still enjoying itself as one of the most popular mobile brands in the country after toppling Nokia.
Sure, there are other players like Micromax which comes a close second in the Indian mobile scenario, Lava, Xolo, Spice and so on. But until now, these were just cheap handsets with hardly any assurance of upgrades to the latest version of Android. And no one likes to be left behind when it comes to getting the latest and greatest updates.
Android One solves this issue, with Google promising to be in charge of beaming software upgrades to users. Additionally, the company has a say in the hardware requirements, lending a modicum of added trust to the handsets being hawked under the new program. Devices which are part of it are in line for an Android L refresh when it’s released this fall.
The waiting list includes the Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1 and Spice Dream Uno, of course. All three cost less than Rs 6500 and have impressive specs, while we saw the best of what Samsung had on offer not too long ago. Considering the reluctance with which the South Korean brand outed its budget phones, it seems to be two minds about further investments in the low-end market.
We’ve been witnessing a growing trend of cheap smartphones cannibalizing feature phones in India. Android One is a timely release on Google’s part. The nation is among the top three fastest growing markets for smartphones. People are still migrating from basic handsets to ones running on a mobile OS. Its venture can reduce the existence of Android forks and bring in greater revenue from Play Store apps.
It will be interesting to see how the entire price war plays out between Google’s Android One devices and Samsung’s affordable portfolio of smartphones in India.