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Android One headed back to India with relaxed standards

by Jacob Kleinman | November 4, 2015

Google I:O 2014 Android One 2

Android One, Google’s attempt to bring a strong stock Android experience to developing countries, didn’t exactly pan out. Now the company is ready to try again, and this time it plans to give local phone-makers more control over their devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is teaming up with Lava, an Indian tech company, to release a new budget smartphone. The device will still run Android with all of Google’s apps, but Lava will have more control over specific hardware and the final price.

It’s unclear exactly why the first batch of devices flopped, though Google faced plenty of tough competition from local firms. In the end, roughly 1.2 million Android One devices shipped in the first year, making up just 3.5 percent of the total market for budget-friendly handsets.

Indian phone-makers also fought back against Google and its tough hardware restrictions, which were designed to ensure that Android would run smoothly on low-end hardware. Moving forward, Google will ease those guidelines a bit, letting companies pick from a larger variety of components. For example, Android One phones can now offer one of five different camera modules.

Whether that’s enough to give Android One a boost in India and other developing markets remains to be seen. Google is facing off against entrenched rivals like Xiaomi, which offers a heavily modified version of Android with tons of extra software and services on top. Still, there should be plenty of room in India for Google and the rest of the industry to thrive.

WSJ

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...


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