Google I/O started off on high note and ended making a lot of Nexus users happy. Pure Android lovers who bragged about their Nexus device got even more bragging rights. Android L with a brand new design and a lot of under-the-hood changes has given Android the revamp it needed. The release is one more step towards fighting off the fragmentation problem that has been plaguing Android for years. Also with L, Android might finally manage to overthrow iOS in areas that Apple has been constantly dominating. Besides this being a "fix what's weak" release for Google, the conference had another less-noticed gem that might bring more users to the search giant: Android One.
What's Android One?
The Android One program, aimed at developing countries is Google's attempt to help manufacturers come up with low-cost devices that don't offer sub-par performance (like they usually do). Costing less than $100, the Android One devices will make sure that you now have no excuse to not use Android. The program will begin with India, where Android has already been doing really well.
Do We Need It?
As for now there are 3 manufacturers that have tied up with Android One. One is Spice, other is Micromax and the third one is Karbonn. While none of them enjoy the popularity of Samsung or LG, they still are big companies in India. Micromax offers a wide variety of low-budget high-end smartphones that have enjoyed a lot of domestic success. However, their low-end low-budget phones have been struggling to bring out the quality that is needed in a fully-functional smartphone. Similarly, Spice and Karbonn, have both been struggling with the same issue: To create a low-budget smartphone that is not terrible. Android One aims to fix this problem.
An Affordable Nexus
Android One promises stock Android along with Google Play auto-installs. And yes, automatic updates are there making it almost like an affordable Nexus line of phones. If you are a Nexus user and have enjoyed the perks that come along, this is something similar. Not only do you get to use the latest version of Android, you also have features that very few Android users have once they are out. Android One offers similar benefits at a very low cost. It is like an affordable version of Nexus.
A Controlled Experience
While Google won't be having complete control over Android One devices like it does with the Nexus line, it will certainly make efforts to ensure a smooth user experience. Manufacturers, in the past, have created sub-standard phones that don't go well with the Android operating system. Google will get their hands dirty and control both hardware and software. This will ensure a smoother-running device despite its low budget. This is a big and surprising change for Google who usually lets manufacturers have their own freedom.
Taking Lessons From a Previous Success
Moto E enjoyed a huge success in developing nations in Asia. With its uber-low price, it made it easy for anyone to go out and buy a new Android smartphone. However, despite its low price, it had killer features that give it a premium feel. A sturdy body, Gorilla Glass screen, latest version of Android, and a waterproof body make this stunning smartphone a great buy, a purchase anyone would rarely regret. The standards set by Moto E are high, and Android One clearly aims to break them and see where the high point of the low-budget smartphone is.
Early Bird Wins
One of the things that will help propel the success of Android One early on is the absence of any big competitors. In other words, Apple doesn't make a low-budget phone and this gives Android another arena where it could enjoy complete dominance. If Android One succeeds as Google aims to, India, China, and other Asian countries could soon be dominated by Android posing a formidable threat to Apple's growth in these markets.
Overall, the Android One program brings what the developing world exactly needs: A powerful low-budget smartphone that works. If executed well, this program might just be Android's ace towards complete market domination.
Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.