Google’s Android One operating system, a special version of Android that was developed for lower-powered smartphones in developing markets, is apparently a failure. The company is reportedly struggling with attempts to get people to adopt Android One smartphones.
Re/code said Friday that Google had two main goals for Android One: to connect billions of people who weren’t already using smartphones to Google services, and to cut off Facebook’s attempts to cater to a similar segment of the market. One problem, it seems, is that Google’s manufacturing partners that are building Android One devices don’t have the scale of larger Android manufacturers and, as larger firms like Samsung swoop in with non-Android One devices, partners such as Micromax are ditching Google for alternative versions of Android such as Cyanogen. So, few firms are actually building the devices and, of the ones that are, few appear actually dedicated to continue doing so.
Re/code points to many other problems, like the inability to get enough local engineers to make sure the latest version of Android hits Android One phones as promised, and Google’s decision to tap local OEMs in each of its seven Android One markets instead of globally dominant smartphone makers, like LG, Motorola, Samsung and others.
The good news? Google has plenty of cash, and it can still tap those huge smartphone makers to try to make something work. It just appears that it is going to have to go back to the drawing board first.