Android One is genius

Google is a smart company and Sundar Pichai is a smart man.

When Android One was first announced at Google I/O, I didn’t fully understand what the program did. New details have emerged in a BBC article, and I have to say, it’s genius.

I’ve consulted for an Indonesian company before interested in launching its own tablet. It was not an easy process. They had to meet many potential vendors in China, test an endless list of components and spend a lot of time haggling over price. Even then, prototypes were often disappointing from a price-to-performance ratio point of view. It was a huge management challenge, especially for a company whose strength is marketing and distribution.

The Android One program makes all that easy.

Google handpicks components it knows will work well, and a minimum specification standard to ensure a good user experience. Moreover, Google has already negotiated with those component suppliers to get low prices. The more participants on the program, the greater Google’s collective bargaining power to drive down cost.

So all a participating company has to do is select combination of components and features it wants, and the company can be rest assured the phone meets a minimum standard of performance and at low material costs.

The end result is that companies who shied away from investing the resources to set-up an Android phone business can do so more easily now. They can allocate more time to other critical things like branding, marketing, distribution and customer service; or even on exclusive, value-add apps and services.

Customers benefit because the likelihood of getting good phones at great prices is higher — all they need to do is look for the Android One branding.

Google extends its dominance in the low end market.

The Android One program might mean fewer consulting engagements for someone like me, but that’s OK. With product out of the way, I can be more effective helping companies figure out other parts of their strategy.

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