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Can Android1 Lead the Way for Google in New Smartphone Market?

Can Android1 Lead the Way for Google in New Smartphone Market?
by Pawan Fangaria on 11-12-2014 at 7:00 pm

I had been wanting to write about it since Google’sbig bang announcement of Android1 in India in Sep this year and their associated strategy to capture some of the large pockets of Smartphone market within a matured or declining cell phone market and maturing overall market of Smartphone. Since I wrote my last article hereon maturation of Smartphone market in Feb this year, I have been happily watching how the P/Q factor is playing a major role in remaining untapped market in countries like India and China. Since an Smartphone is something, if not larger than life, at least ‘equal to life’ 🙂 utility item, P/Q factor will take more time to come down letting high priced Apple Smartphones to continue with a larger segment (who can afford that price) than just niche segment.

I was pretty much convinced with Google’s India strategy of bringing high quality Smartphone with Android1 in it in the range of ~$100 and tie-up with top OEM partners including Micromax(next to Samsungin Smartphone shipment share and topmost in handset shipment share in India), connectivity partners like Bharti Airteland also on-line distribution channels like Amazon, Flipkartand Snapdealwho can proliferate into tier II and III cities. In another 2-3 years, Google expects Indian internet users to increase to 500M, most of them accessing internet through Smartphones. It expects to proliferate into all untapped regions including South Asia to get the next billion Smartphone users. After initial OEM with Micromax, Karbonnand Spice, Acer, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic and Xolo will also make Android1 Smartphones.

However, when I looked at Paul’s article – Xiaomi Already #3 in Smartphones Behind Samsung and Apple, I needed to re-look between Android1 phone and Xiaomi. While this again is in line with maturation of Smartphone market and need for high quality Smartphones within the range of $100 – $300, it appears to be a serious contender to Google’s Android1 strategy. Here is some of my analysis and I see a close fight between them to tap that remaining Smartphone market.

I was perplexed due to the fact that when >80% Smartphone shipment is with Android OS, then how is it possible for Xiaomi with MIUI OS to become #3. But then on investigation I came to know that the ~85% number of Android devices includes ~20% of forked Android devices which is part of AOSP (Android Open Source Project). The MIUI OS is built out of AOSP and is giving severe competition to Google itself. It’s similar to iOS6 and MIUI app store is remarkable in the sense that it is similar to Apple’s. How could Xiaomi do it with AOSP? It’s mystery. But the truth is it’s a tough competition with Google itself. Does that mean Google should shut the open source? No way, that will again be a self limiting factor, because from the open source the innovation comes which proliferates Android per se. But in this situation, in a way, it’s asking Google to compete with itself, interesting!

Let’s see some of the credible points about Google Android (in ~65% Smartphones other than AOSP based) powered by Google Apps and Play Services that provide the best features and security aspects. With everything of Google including Google Maps, Google Now, Google Translate, Google Games, Gmail, Hangout, Play Music, Play Books, and YouTube and so on, it makes a perfect Google world for a user. And YouTube is to let users watch videos offline in India where people may opt for lower data plans or slow speed economical internet options. I like this aspect of Google integrating things together which one may see distant apart.

During Android1 announcement, Sunder Pichai clearly said that Google is getting into hardware, will provide reference platform to their OEM partners to choose between various pre-qualified components (processors, graphics, storage, battery, cameras…), all will be tested by Google and Android software completely optimized with these; clearly a good move towards providing high-end standard Smartphone with good quality at low cost for emerging markets. Android1 Smartphones will get processors from MediaTekand Qualcomm.

What more? Android1 phone will get all OS updates in the same way as Nexus; it will get the latest updates of Android L, nicknamed as Lollipop! With Lollipop, the phone will get improved battery life, enhanced security features and smarter notifications. Users will be able to view and respond to messages from lock screen, hide sensitive contents, set priority mode for fewer disruptions, set ranking of notifications based on their senders and type of communication, set automatic encryption of data and so on. The features include natural motion, realistic lighting and shadows, and familiar visual elements to enhance user’s navigation experience.

So, I see a definite merit in Android1 Smartphones based on their eminence in usability, integration, performance, screen accommodating most applications and the important one, price point. It will be a tough fight with Xiaomi, and who knows another AOSP based Smartphone can raise head; Gionee could be another.

Let’s see how this game plays out in the emerging market for Smartphones. It’s going to be no road for Apple there and hard climb for Samsung with their high prices. It I look at my Feb article “Is Smartphone Market Maturing?”, the other leader Google seems to be promising with its Android prominence. But it has to be aggressive in the execution of its strategies.

The verdict will be of audiences / users, their opinion and perception counts at the end of the day. Comments, opinions, suggestions are welcome!

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