While Apple maintained its high standards at premium prices just 3 days ago (we were invited to that event and we are covering it here), Google is coming lower and lower. No, not in terms of quality or market shares, but in price. Google has partnered with leading Indian mobile phone manufacturers, Micromax, Karbonn and Spice among others, to bring out $50 Android phones.
Take these names no lightly for Micromax is breathing heavily on Samsung’s neck for the first place in the Indian mobile market. Karbonn comes a 3rd while Spice is also popular. The total market share of these three companies stand over 30%. With Google standing behind them, they will be able to deliver phones at a price Samsung can not dare to imagine.
Android chief Sundar Pichai, told BusinessWeek, “For me it’s really important we figure out one day how we can have a great smartphone at $50 or $100, the challenge of what we are trying to accomplish is a bit different than the challenge of someone like Apple. … I think that difference matters. It forces us to take different journeys.”
However, also note that the $50 Android phones are already available in India. Take Intex Aqua T5 for example. That is not too bad a smartphone, given that it comes for less than $55. But these phones have failed to make a huge wave. Will Google’s presence create any difference?
Now add to the equation, the growth of smartphone market. India is the 2nd most populated country in the world after China but China registered a growth of 31% in Q1 2014 compared to 186% growth shown by Indian market. In other words, the Indian smartphone market is doubling yearly. While China’s market is pretty saturated, India is sucking in whatever it can buy. A $50 smartphone will only be the proverbial butter to the fire.
The exact specifications of these phones are kept secret although they are widely speculated, very logically, to be the lowest possible specification possible to give a decent Android experience. Dual-SIM, a microSD card slot, and FM radio and other standard features are rumoured to be present. The Micromax Android One smartphone was also revealed to feature a 4.5-inch display. Decent for such a low price, we would say.
The competition will come from Spice and Intex Firefox OS phones at INR 2299 and INR 1999 ($38 & $33) respectively. In fact, Intex model was sold out in 3 days from the launch date which is a record for any company in India. We are planning to bring you complete review of this phone very soon.
Will Google regret this decision and silently withdraw, or will this cater to a billion people with a great alternative? We will know more come Monday the 15th.