Google’s head of business development for Chrome and Android partnerships Mike Hayes says that new Android One devices will be coming to market from a range of manufacturers this year.
Confirmation came in an interview with The Economic Times of India, in which Hayes explained that Google’s low-end Android One devices are now “a part of the broader hardware strategy.”
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Underpinning Google’s desire to get low-cost handsets running its mobile OS into the potentially hugely lucrative markets like India, Europe, Turkey, the Philippines and Africa is its real goal: to get people using its services, so it can gather yet more data for advertising.
Hayes didn’t say exactly which manufacturers are making devices, but did say that the company regularly meets with Micromax, Karbon and Spice, which made the first Android One handsets.
After a faltering start to the program, Google decided to relax the guidelines put on manufacturers wanting to get ‘Android One’ certification for their devices. Hayes explained:
For the initial devices that we had launched, we had put certain yardsticks in order to stand up the software, which is why you saw commonality between the specifications.
There is [now] freedom to choose components is now around for OEMs. The decision to procure the components to build the device is still very much taken by the OEM, as they decide everything in terms of specification, pricing, and when to launch. We work around the software elements such as bringing services and Android as a platform OS on to those devices.
Exactly what these devices will offer is yet to be revealed, but putting smartphones as cheap as $30 in people’s hand is one smart way of securing the next billion users to come online.