Google has announced it is planning a reboot of its Android One low-price smartphone initiative in India over the next few weeks. Part of the plans for the new project includes delivering devices that are priced at the “sweet spot” of $50.
The first Android One phones launched in India about a year ago with the goal of standardizing low-cost smartphones and ensuring all users were on the latest version of Android. Google doesn't make any of the hardware, but it provides manufacturers with a set of hardware standards which they have to adhere to. The first series of phones were priced around $100 and the company has since expanded the program to additional emerging markets, reaching its seventh country, Turkey, in May.
Although Google had aimed to get Android One phones into the hands of billions of consumers, sales figures for the devices were not what the company had hoped for. Around 700,000 Android One phones were sold in the first 100 days, primarily in India, with the same number of devices being shipped in the subsequent five months.
Android One smartphones have struggled to compete in markets that are already filled with plenty of competing ultra-low-cost devices. Google also faced supply chain issues and struggled to work effectively with manufacturers to ensure timely updates to the phones.
Rajan Anandan, Google's managing director in India and Southeast Asia, said that the company remained “very committed” to Android One, but admitted the project had not delivered to expectations. “It is like any company when you try to launch a new initiative — we had a few hiccups,” he said.
In addition to the $50 smartphone, Anandan said the reboot of the Android One project will see Google working on new services designed specifically for the Indian market and products suitable for those with slow data connections. The company has already launched a bare-bones incarnation of its search engine, which allows for faster loading web pages, and an offline version of YouTube and Maps.