Google is continuing its push to dominate developing markets with affordable devices through its Android One program.
Mike Hayes, the company’s director of business development for Chrome and Android partnerships, said more Android One devices will be coming to markets this year, as a part of Google’s “broader hardware strategy.” Hayes sat down with the Economic Times of India, where he said manufacturers will also get more freedom to choose components for devices.
“For the initial devices that we had launched, we had put certain yardsticks in order to stand up the software, which is why you saw commonality between the specifications,” Hayes said. “But, since that time, we have had devices with different display sizes, and different chip-sets. [The] freedom to choose components is now around for OEMs. The decision to procure the components to build the device is still very much taken by the OEM, as they decide everything in terms of specification, pricing, and when to launch. We work around the software elements such as bringing services and Android as a platform OS on to those devices.”
Android One targets markets like India, Europe, Turkey, Africa, and South East Asia, where Google wants to provide a low-cost Android device that runs stock Android. These devices, like those in Google’s Nexus lineup, are first to get Android software updates.
Hayes says Google is taking a broader view of its hardware business — that’s easily seen with the hiring of Rick Osterloh, former president of Motorola, as the company’s head of a unified hardware division. With Android One unified under Osterloh’s Nexus program, along with other devices, Hayes says we can expect to see a strategy from the company for low-end devices.
The search giant is still very much in talks with companies that signed on to develop products under the Android One program, such as Spice, Karbon, and Micromax. The speed at which these companies now release Android One devices is entirely up to them.
Hayes says there has been four times the growth in the number of buyers in the past 18 months for the Android One program in Indonesia.
“Carrier billing has played a critical role in getting more buyers on to the platform,” he said. “We are seeing similar encouraging results in markets like Saudi Arabia, UAE. We expect same results in India.”
Cheaper devices mean the chance for more people to come online, which is a boon to Google, as the Google Play Store stands to gain the most benefit.