Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), which kicked off its mission to boost sales in key emerging markets by launching its Android One initiative for low-cost smartphones in India on Monday, considers the South Asian country as the biggest source of growth for its Android mobile operating system in the future, according to Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps.
Pichai, who was in New Delhi for the launch of Google’s Android One program, told The Times of India, or ToI, that the company is tripling its Android user base in India every year. According to him, Google cannot afford to ignore the significance of a fast-changing market such as India, where the smartphone market reportedly doubled to 44 million units in 2013 and has already touched 36 million devices in the first half of 2014.
“In core products and services like search, maps, Chrome, YouTube etc India's one of our strongest markets,” Pichai told ToI in an interview. “As far as revenue is concerned, we've no doubt there's huge potential. We wouldn't be doing things like Android One if we didn't think so.”
Android One is a set of competitive specifications that allows manufacturers to produce low-cost smartphones with the latest hardware and software. With affordable price points, Google is aiming to boost sales of Android One-powered smartphones, which could potentially increase Internet access around the country, as well as the use of Google's suite of products.
"After China and the United States, India is the third largest smartphone market in the world and Google won't like to leave such a huge market in control of brands looking to use a custom-forked Android OS as is happening in China," Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Counterpoint Research, a Hong Kong-based technology research agency, told Reuters.
In addition to Android One, Pichai also spoke about the company’s plans about Android TV, a smart TV platform the company announced at Google I/O 2014 in June, for India. According to him, Google is currently working with original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, in the country, although the plan is still at an early stage.
“Lots of original equipment manufacturers will ship sets with Android TV next year. You should see traction in India after that. I expect 2015 to have solutions based on Android TV for India,” Pichai said.
Pichai also expects the combination of Android and Chrome to contribute to the company’s growth in years to come. While personal computers took decades to generate a user base of nearly 1.7 billion, Android is expected to get there in less than 10 years, Pichai told ToI.