Google Inc has launched the first smartphones under its Android One project, priced at Rs6,399 ($105) in India, in a bid to capture the low-cost segment of the fastest-gowing smartphone market in the world.
The Mountain View-based company, in a tie up with Indian mobile makers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles has introduced the affordable line of phones, powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.
Following the India launch, Google said it planned to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.
The internet search company outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document, which Reuters claims to have seen.
India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones with many people buying the devices for the first time. So far only around 10 per cent of India's population uses a smartphone, according to brokerage Nomura, in a recent research note.
It says the figure is likely double over the next four years.
Google, however was not the only company vying for a share of the Indian market.
According to analysts, there were at least 80 smartphone brands in India and they said the Android One phones offered customers more than just affordability if it wanted to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China's Xiaomi.
Announced during Google's marquee I/O conference in June, Android One smartphones feature low-cost hardware designed by the company and manufactured by its partners, while it provided complete software support for the ecosystem.
This benefits both Google and its partners as it eliminated the need for manufacturers to tweak their devices and set a minimum standard.
It also helped in reducing chances of bugs and errors arising from hardware / software compatibility and also laid some onus on Google in cases where troubleshooting was required.
Google stood to benefit by having a greater say over the wider smartphone assembly line, an area it had always tried to expand, as witnessed by the launch of its Nexus series or acquisition of Motorola, while both would gain from an enhancement of the already-vast footprint for Android, the quintessential operating system that both derived their respective strengths from.