Google has finally launched the first Android One-branded smartphones in India and has confirmed that it will be bound for the Philippine market within the year.
First announced at I/O 2014, Android One is not exactly just a phone but hardware design guidelines created by Google engineers that device makers can follow to make low-cost phones.
In doing so, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) can use Google’s optimized reference designs and skip lengthy development and testing. The company calls it “a comprehensive solution to address the mobile computing needs of those in emerging markets.”
Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps, made the announcement last Monday on Google’s official blog, revealing the three local Indian smartphone makers – Karbonn, Spice and Micromax – that will manufacture Android One phones for the debut.
Since the company is targeting emerging markets, Pichai said that they are planning to expand AndroidOne to Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia – comprised of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – by the end of the year, with more countries to follow in 2015.
Plans to launch the handsets in Western markets are not currently on the table, but Pichai did not rule it out, according to reports.
According to GSMArena, Spices’ Dream UNO will be the cheapest AndroidOne in the Indian market at INR 6,299 ($103), followed by the Karbonn Sparkle V and the Canvas A1 from Micromax with a price tag of INR 6,499 ($106).
Possible partners for the Philippine launch has yet to be revealed but Pichai mentioned partners that currently have local operations. Among them are Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo and chipmaker Qualcomm.
But more interesting is Google’s decision to sell AndroidOne phones exclusively via online stores in India- a strategy that has immensely paid off for China’s Xiaomi so far. For India, Flipkart will be carrying the Spice Dream UNO, Snapdeal for the Karbonn Sparkle V and Amazon for the Micromax Canvas V1.
Xiaomi could be AndroidOne’s biggest competitor in terms of scale, especially with the launch of the Redmi 1S aggressively priced at around $126 launched late August. Lazada has been the exclusive partner of Xiaomi for its debut in the Philippines last June with the Mi3.