Google CEO Sundar Pichai is coming to India this month and is expected to spell out his vision for the coming year at an event on December 16.
The invite reads, “At Google we believe that technology can change people’s lives for the better. Indians are coming online at an astonishing rate with affordable smartphones. These new users have a completely fresh view on what the Internet has to offer.”
While it was initially believed that Pichai will be launching new versions of the Android One smartphone, a series he kicked off in September 2014, it is now learnt that the event will not have a product announcement.
Google’s big project to launch budget phones for the emerging markets with pure Android and mid-range specs made global headlines after the Delhi launch by Pichai. The India launch had three phones from Spice, Micromax and Karbonn all with the same specs and almost the same price. But despite Google’s big push, Android One didn’t succeed.
Android One figures were well below expectations and the chances of this new series was hit by competition from new entrants like Xiaomi, which offered much better specs at the same price range. Even the OEMs manufacturing Android Ones had better phones to offer. By most estimates, the figure did not cross 1.1 million in the first year.
Google tried again with a better specced Lava Pixel V2, but the phone didn’t impress. As we noted in our review, the phone’s performance was just not up to the mark, especially if you considered the competition in the market which was offering better both in terms of price and performance.
The main issue with Android One was the fact that it hit a price to spec sweet spot that would have worked six months before it was actually launched. Google in all terms missed the bus.
Google’s Rajan Anandan, Managing Director for Southeast Asia, had earlier told Financial Times that the company is working on a $50 Android One, which comes to around Rs 3,500. Given that it had been a while since a new Android One device had been launched there was speculation that Pichai, who has become Google CEO since, will announce a new product. There is also the emerging 4G boom in India, which is expected to be fueled by low-cost devices and affordable data services.
India is still one of the markets where smartphone growth rate is in double digits and more and more people are expected to upgrade to smartphones from very affordable feature phones. In other parts of the world, the numbers are slowing down to single digits, according to latest IDC report, making India an even more valuable market.