Google isn’t just targeting a broader user base with Android 4.4 based on speculative assumptions – TechCrunch has learned that the Internet giant recently sent teams of Android staffers all over the world on information gathering missions to find out about how its mobile OS is used in various markets. There was a particular emphasis on Japan with these excursions, our tipster says, but it also reached China, India, Spain and many more markets where lower cost devices have a very strong foothold.
The purpose of these trips was to find out “how people use Android” in these markets, according to our tipster. It looks like a concerted effort to make Android more successful in markets where it still has lots of room to grow. In Japan, for instance, Android is just barely outselling iOS according to the most recent numbers from Kantar Worldpanel, whereas Google enjoys a much larger gulf in most other markets.
Google has also recently shown a renewed interest in targeting high growth potential markets that still see many subscribers using feature phones. The Moto G is plainly an attempt to hook users new to smartphones, with so-called premium features offered at a bargain price of just $179 on contract for a model with 8GB of onboard storage. The design of the Moto G was informed by the input of 15,000 potential Android smartphone users, according to Motorola, which again backs up the idea that Google has been doing field research on addressing those markets.
The Moto G, and Android 4.4 KitKat, are both clear signals that Google is thinking beyond the lucrative U.S. market with its current focus on mobile. Localization and addressing particular markets with unique features and interfaces is something that Google can actually do perhaps easier than its competitors, because of the fundamentally changeable nature of Android. Making sure that it’s looking at these markets first-hand, and getting core Android team members out to satellite offices to learn more about the needs of Android’s next billion indicates Google is tackling mobile in a very forward-thinking manner.