The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is working closely with Indian mobile phone makers Micromax Informatics Ltd., Spice Mobility Ltd. and Olive Telecom to produce cheaper Android smartphones to be sold below $150 now and towards below $100 soon.
Most of the initial Google-powered phones in India from global handset makers such as Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp. cost upward of $400—a high price for a market where 42% of the population of 1.2 billion people earns less than $1.25 a day.
Ways in which cheaper prices can be achieved could be by selecting to use ARM11 class processors, with 128MB RAM and resistive touch screens, and maybe also, limit the cellular part at 2G GPRS modem type instead of 3G. As India does not yet really have 3G coverage everywhere according to this WSJ article.
Android devices also work best on wireless networks capable of “3G” speeds. Indian carriers are just now in the process of upgrading to that level.
New Delhi-based Micromax, which is planning an initial public offering, hopes to release its first Android handset around the Hindu festival of Diwali early next month, and wants to have at least four Android phones by March, a person familiar with the company’s plans said.
$100 Android phones is the way Google can reach a billion Android users within a year or two, and 5 to 7 billion Android users in 3-5 years with $30-50 Android phones once all the components for making Android smartphones are thus lowered in price.
isuppli.com has been reporting for a while that current Android super phones sold by HTC and Motorola all have a bill of material and manufacturing costs closer to $150 than $200, thus proving that when manufacturers sell Android super phones for above $400 today, there is a healthy profit margin there for them. So with mass manufacturing and lower profit margins, I also believe developing countries could be getting Android Super Phones with full capacitive screens, full ARM Cortex A8 processors and 3G capable modem speeds and still not have to pay more than $150-200 for a phone now and $100-150 with optimizations of component costs.
The question could be, how does Google support the manufacturing of $100 Android phones for developing countries and at the same time not disrupt the existing $400+ Android super phone market of developed countries? I would like to see the $100 Android phone reach all countries of the world, and this is why I am a fan of new pre-paid cheap Android phones being manufactured by Huawei (2) and ZTE.