I think Android One has a long way to go to be close to calling itself a success.
Samsung and MicroMax average around 1.5 million sales a month each in India, Karbonn alone averaged 666,000 a month last quarter, and Motorola achieved 3 million smartphone sales in 11 months (~272,000 a month) following its re-launch in the country. The last figure for Android One shipments was reported at 200,000 devices in October, and falling since launch.
In total, Android One’s shipments for MicroMax, Karbonn, and Spice handsets are way behind the market leaders, and are even smaller than what Motorola has managed to accomplish by itself. In October 2014, Android One devices were expected to account for just 2.5 percent of all shipments into India, a pitiful amount for a smartphone range with the backing of the region’s leading vendors! Android One simply has not had the impact that Google expected, and there’s little that can be done to turn that around.
The stalled release of promised updates from Google has tarnished the only unique selling point that the range had going for it. The update straight to Android 5.1 suggests that Google has had issues porting Lollipop to low-end devices, but in which case initial promises should not have been made or progress should have been better communicated to consumers.
As has already been pointed out, the reality hasn’t matched up with the vision, through a combination of poor marketing, poor support and the impressive products released by more nimble competitors. I don’t think that Android One is necessary, the market is doing a better job at reaching the next billion users than Google thought it could. The project certainly wouldn’t be missed if Google was to pull the plug.
Personally I feel a large part of Android One’s lack of success has to do with Google not being willing to spend money on marketing. It’s trying to sell a major platform for consumers to buy into, and if its own Nexus program is anything to go on, the extent of that push is a mighty weak one indeed. There are hundreds of devices available to Indian consumers, why in the world would they randomly chose one running Android One instead of a competing device with better specs? All the more so if they don’t even know what Android One is. Does Google actually expect the OEMs to go all-out marketing the fact that their under-powered hardware is running a “stock” Android build, as if that matters to most of the population at-large?
Therein lies the real problem here, at least the way I see it: Android One is yet another “vision” Google has yet lacks the attention-span to actually nurture and develop. Look at Google Glass, which was just scrapped and now is going to be rebuilt from the ground up if the latest reports are correct. Look at the Nexus Q. Look at how many times Google has attempted Android TV. I’m honestly quite skeptical of the whole Android Auto project. Even the Google Fiber project seems to be totally random in terms of where the company decides to implement it.
Google has tons of great ideas, and certainly has the cash to make them happen. It also is far more interested in bringing these ideas to market than say, Apple. The problem is that the company has yet to transition itself into a multi-faceted organization. It’s great with ideas and designs and such, but when it comes to hardware or long-term plans, it seems like things fall short. It makes the failure of the Android Silver project (which was never officially acknowledged) all the more logical: there was just no way for Google to have been able to aggressively push devices in stores, because that would have required follow-through.
Now it’s your turn
How do you feel about the Android One program — is it living up to its reputation? We welcome you to leave your responses in the comments below, or you can get even more detailed in the forums.
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