According to Google, India will be the first country to get Android One phones. Reuters
Google and its three hardware partners -- Micromax, Karbonn and Spice -- will launch phones powered by Android One operating system in India in September. Android One, which was announced at Google I/O in June, is a version of Android operating system which is customised for mainstream and low-end hardware.
As part of the Android One programme, Google's hardware partners will use the OS in their phones without modifying it. This way, Android One devices will be similar to Nexus devices, but aimed at price-sensitive markets like India. They will offer mainstream and price-conscious phone buyers a clean Android experience. The software updates for the devices will be handled by Google.
At the Google I/O, Sundar Pichai, who heads the Android division within the company, had said that India would be the first country where Android One devices would be launched.
According to sources, Google and its partners will launch three Android One devices in September. The devices are "more or less ready" though the specific launch date is yet to be decided.
One thing that is holding the launch back is the price. Google wants to hit the $100 price point. During the I/O Pichai had hinted that Android One devices would be available for as low as $100. However, the hardware partners are not sure of meeting this price point and want a higher price tag for their phones.
Negotiations between Google and its hardware partners are still on and the companies are likely to reach a compromise soon. Sources say that prices for the devices slated to be launched in September are not yet finalised but the phones may cost more than Rs 10,000 (over $150).
The companies are also not very happy at the prospect of losing exclusivity. All Android One phones are likely to have similar hardware and software, though one source told IndiaToday.in that the hardware partners would be able to put some of their in-house apps on the devices. In terms of branding, these devices are likely to have the name of their manufacture on the back, similar to how Nexus 5 carries the name of LG. Brand Google will not be mentioned on the device.
At I/O, Google had showed an Android One device from Micromax. It had a 4.5-inch screen. Earlier in July, Evan Blass, a blogger who uses @Evleaks Twitter handle and who has an impressive record of accurately leaking upcoming smartphones, revealed an email snippet that had hardware details of an Android One device. Allegedly manufactured by Micromax, this device is supposed to have a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor running at 1.2GHz, 4.5-inch screen with 960 x 540 pixels resolution, 5 megapixel primary camera, dual-SIM support and a microSD card slot.
Our sources did not comment on the hardware inside the upcoming Android One devices but confirmed that at least one of them -- the Micromax phone -- would use Qualcomm chipset.
India is one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world. Also, there are millions of feature phone users who are expected to move to an affordable smartphone in the coming years. With Android One, Google is targeting these users.
"When I go back home to India... and other countries like that, it is exciting to see the impact phones have on people's lives but it is disappointing that only less than 10% of population has access to smartphones. We want to change that," Pichai had said at the I/O. "We are going to launch (Android One devices) across the world but we are going to start the journey in India. We are also working with telecom operators in India to provide affordable connectivity options for these devices."