During this year's Google I/O event, unsurprisingly, Google announced a lot of appealing hardwares, softwares and services such as Andriod L supporting 64bit processing, Gear Live, G watch and Moto 360 smartwatches based on Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV and Android One. These are all fantastic achievements over what Google and its partners have done for the past years. Among all these gifts from Google, it might be worth taking another look at Google Android One program, which is designed to help smartphone manufacturers design and build high-performing smartphones at lower prices under US$100 based on Stock Android. Google has been teaming up with many different device partners such as HTC, Samsung and LG to create the reference Android-powered smartphones targeting mid to high-tier price range, but this time Google decided to launch a new program to help more affordable, but high-quality smartphones available at many developing countries starting with India, under its control.
As the first step, Google is working with three Indian vendors, Micromax, Karbonn and Spice to build Android One powered smartphones for Indian market from the second half of this year. As the published report under our HCST (Handset Country Share Tracker) service tracks the smartphone market in India, these three vendors have meaningful market shares in their home country and are growing very fast based on the very small smartphone penetration in India. The Android One initiative will be likely to throw some impact on Samsung, Microsoft/Nokia, LG, Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese vendors who are also looking at the entry-tier segment in India to grow their respective market shares. We believe that it would make sense for many players to target this low-price sector in India as our report, published by WSS (Wireless Smartphone Strategies) service, estimates that this market below the wholesale price of US$99 in India is expected to account for 45% of total smartphones sold in India in 2014.
While the target market is a little lower than Android One, Mozilla is also trying to announce a few ultra-low firefox-operated smartphones at US$25 this fall under the Indian brand from Intex and Spice. Android One, Microsoft/Nokia's Nokia X/X2 project, Mozilla and other smartphone vendors equipped with affordable smartphones are going to compete fiercely neck and neck with each other for more vendor and value share in emerging markets. In a nutshell, India and the developing markets will be able to enjoy more diversity and variety when stopping by retail shops or operator channels to look for their first-time smartphones or cheaper ones from the latter half of this year.