New Delhi, Sep 5 Google has partnered Chinese firm Xiaomi to launch Mi A1, a new handset powered by the Android One operating system, as the US-based tech major seeks to consolidate its position in emerging markets. Google had first introduced Android One handsets in 2014 with Indian phone makers like Micromax, Spice and Karbonn, with all devices priced under Rs 6,500.
Despite the big bang launch, very few devices were launched in the time that followed and it looked like Google had pulled the plug on Android One. "I would not consider this a reboot... we have been working in this direction now for a couple of years just a little bit more quietly," Google Global Director of Android Partner Programmes Jon Gold told reporters here. He added that going ahead, more devices featuring the Android One OS will be launched across the globe.
Google offers the stock Android experience (most handset makers add their own layer of customisation) and regular security updates as part of the Android One OS. According to market watchers, the first attempt by Google was probably not successful because there were devices with better specifications in the Rs 6,000-10,000 range.
Gold, acknowledging the muted response to the previous devices, said, "I think that it was sort of wrong setting in the wrong time (compared to) where we are today." He, however, declined to comment on the number of devices sold under Android One or elaborate on the possible reasons for the lukewarm response.
"We have learnt a lot in doing it. We see that there are reasons that it may not work as well in the entry level and so opening it up to a broader spectrum I think plays to the strength of what the programme has to offer," he added. Gold said while Google is working with multiple original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring out more handsets based on Android One across price bands, "more of them will probably be in the mid range".
According to Counterpoint Research Associate Director Tarun Pathak, over 5 million Android One devices have been sold across 20 countries. He added that Google will have to ensure that the updates are rolled out regularly as promised to ensure that user experience is not affected this time. Xiaomi, which ranks among the worlds top five smartphone companies, will be rolling out the device across 40 countries including Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Mexico.
"Mi A1 is a strategic device in our global expansion. Since the time Google came to us, we have worked together to bring out this device... Both of us committed to future software and security updates," said Donovan Sung, Director of Product Management at Xiaomi Global.
The Mi A1 is the companys first dual-rear camera phone with a 12 MP wide angle camera and a 12 MP telephoto camera. Priced at Rs 14,999, the device features 5.5-inch display, octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB internal memory (expandable up to 128 GB), 5MP front camera and 3,080 mAh battery.
It will be available from September 12 at Mi.com, Flipkart, Mi Homes, Mi Preferred Partner stores and large format retail partner stores. PTI