Google Introduces Android One Program To Bring More Smartphones To Developing Markets

Today at Google I/O, the company┬álaunched a new initiative designed to help make smartphones more affordable to develop and release. The initiative will target OEMs specifically making phones for developing markets, which could help increase Android’s market share even further.

On stage, Google SVP Sundar Pichai discussed the prevalence of mobile and smartphones in places like India and other developing nations. While mobile is huge and helps users connect with one another, he said less than 10 percent of users in those markets have a smartphone.

Part of the problem is the affordability of those phones, and that starts with the cost of developing them. “If you look at all the OEMs in those countries, each has to reinvent the wheel… and develop a smartphone in nine months,” Pichai said.

With Android One, Google is hoping to reduce the cost of smartphone development by identifying the components that go into a smartphone and to pre-qualify suppliers for those parts to ensure they work together.

On the software side, Google is giving hardware manufacturers access to its Play Store to help them add locally relevant apps to their devices. It’s also handling all the software updates automatically, just like it does for Nexus devices.

Android is launching the program with three OEMs to start, according to Pichai: Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. The company is trying to work with various wireless providers to also lower the cost of wireless plans.