Android One Launch Helps Solve an Old Problem

By Gary Kim September 03, 2014

Android One is Google’s reference design intended to make up-to-date versions of Android easily available to smartphone users in developing regions, at prices around $100.

The other angle is to help ensure that users in those markets have access to Google services and the most-recent versions of Android. That will help ensure consistency of experience under conditions where hardware platforms might be less robust.

Android One should also help Google maintain a more-consistent look and feel across the whole supply of Android devices sold in a market, since some suppliers will add custom software, and might not include native support for Google apps.

Google apparently is announcing Android One on September 15, 3014 in India.

Android One was unveiled in June 2014 as a way for Google to provide a consistent, high-quality Android experience on entry-level devices.

The premise is that OEMs will build inexpensive hardware that costs between $115 and $165, but the updates will be taken care of by Google.

The growing availability of low-cost smartphones in developing regions is an important trend.

Some of us can remember great "hand wringing" a concern in international policy circles about how to bring telephone service to two billion people who never had made a phone call.

You don't hear such concern anymore, since we are rapidly solving that problem with mobile communications, a solution not envisioned in the 1970s and 1980s.

Two decades ago the question largely had shifted to the problem of how to develop low-cost laptops for developing nations, at retail prices an order of magnitude less costly than devices generally sold in developed nations.

There was some work around the notion of special devices optimized for rural villagers that would be low cost, perhaps $150 or so.

For many at the time, likely most knowledgeable observers, the prevailing thinking was that it couldn't really be done. And that remained true even as recently as the middle of the 2000 decade.

But as we stumbled upon a solution to the problem of getting communications to people at prices they could afford, we are about to solve the problem of getting computers to people, also at prices they can afford.

People will use smartphones with larger screens or tablets as their “computer.” Problem solved.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Editor

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