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Understanding Android One

Google launched Android One a few weeks ago. This project will see Google partner with hardware and carrier brands. Google will handle all software and security updates and will also make reference hardware designs meaning the OEMs only have to build the phones. The main aim of the Android One is to spread Google-controlled Androids to the next billion users by using the local OEMs. Android One, the way I see, are but low end Nexus devices for the ‘other world’.

Google, I think, is looking to solve the problem facing the Android Ecosystem whereby OEMs, mostly in the developing countries, fail to send security and software updates. The take up of newer versions of Android is so slow and this is a first step at solving that. You may ask me how. Think of it. Samsung for example, takes months to update their flagships. They don’t even care to update their other low end phones whose specs are even worse than those of the Android Ones. The Ones however will receive updates for up to 2 years. Since the Android Ones are cheaper, they will kill the low end business for Samsung and other manufacturers as more people will prefer updates. And at that cost… Why buy a slightly expensive low end Samsung phone running Android Jelly Bean that will never be updated when you can buy a fine Android One running Android Kitkat and will be receiving updates for two years?

The project will, if not kill the low end phones, shape up the standards for low end phones. See this, once the first set of Android Ones get accepted, and they will, more and more people (who either haven’t ever had phones or those who have previously bought other affordable smartphones) will opt to be relying on or rather continue buying Android Ones.  And there will be pressure on Android Ones to get better. They will get better and with each update they will introduce features we’ve only seen in premium phones for very low prices. And this is what will attract the next billions in the Middle East and then in Africa. And if the current companies want to maintain their share of the market, the low end market, they should either partner with Google (not good) or build darn good low ends that will attract us. It is also worth noting that the partners in the Android One project will also compete amongst themselves. If the competition gets sweet, the prices fall and the specs better.

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When I heard of Android Ones the first thought was: RIP feature phones. The project is clearly bringing an end to feature phones as the prices Google is looking to sell these phones are quite something people will prefer over the prices of certain feature phones.

The partners in the project include:

  • Acer, Alcatel, Lenovo, Mediatek, Micromax, Spice
  • Qualcomm, Spice, Karbonn, HTC
  • Lava, Spice and Xolo and many others

Google says “Android One is designed to provide a faster, smoother, more responsive experience. And each phone comes with the features people expect in the markets where they’re available”. The reviews online are relatively positive.

I would love to see the project launched in Africa especially in Kenya where more and more people are buying smartphones. Bring the phones over here Google.

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