Today in India Google announced and unveiled the first “Android One” devices, Google’s attempt at recapturing the lower end smartphone spectrum. Google partnered up with Indian OEMs to bring low cost Android smartphones to India (and later other parts of Asia).
The concept of Android One involves pairing low price smartphones, along with immediate software updates (circumventing the usual wait and fragmentation issues of the US). Google has also confirmed that Android One smartphones will be among the first to receive the upcoming Android L update, meaning that smartphone users will no longer have to choose between budget or performance/latest software.
The target price-range for the first wave of Android One smartphones is around $100, competing with Windows Phone’s most successful price range the 53x/63x which retail around $110-$130, of course the earlier variants such as the Lumia 520 sell for much cheaper (close to $60-$70) and will also give Android One some stiff competition.
In response to Google’s announcement of Android One today, Microsoft VP of mobile devices Chris Weber mentioned that they’re still working on even more devices, as part of a “portfolio refresh” with intentions to introduce devices costing as less than $40.
Microsoft says that it is planning to introduce Windows Phone handsets with as low as $40 price tag to increase the reach of its phones to more hands. “We’re just beginning a refresh of the entire portfolio,” Chris Weber, vice president of mobile device sales at Microsoft, told ET. “We aim to push the price point of Windows phones significantly lower – we certainly see that happening on the Android ecosystem – without impacting quality and experience.”
It seems that Microsoft isn’t willing to give up the budget end smartphones without a fight, as it’s the one area that Windows Phone has truly been successful, so it seems things are about to get very interesting.