How Google’s KitKat & Android One may harm Samsung’s smartphone market in India


google&androiedSamsung’s fall from the top spot in India is probably by Google’s grand design.

With a masterstroke called ‘Kit Kat’ last September and the latest Android One initiative slated for commercial launch ahead of Diwali, Google has opened the floodgates of competition in emerging markets like India.

Majority of new smartphone buyers in the country are migrating from feature phones to smartphones. So they are looking for a cheap upgrade.

Low cost devices makers typically stick to 512 MB of memory to keep prices low. That made the devices running on Ice Cream Sandwich– the older version of Android–sluggish.

Then came Kit Kat. Google’s masterstroke.

Unlike Ice Cream Sandwich, KitKat can run on as little memory as 340 MB. This meant that the cheaper devices makers could now provide a great experience without having to add more memory or cost to the device. And just like users, Indian phone vendors loved it.

Now at the lower price band, you have brands like Micromax and Karbonn threatening Samsung’s domination with feature loaded phones costing about $100. The entry of Moto-E and its cult following at a similar price point in India didn’t help Samsung either.

Moreover, Samsung isn’t part of the Android One initiative, where Google provides reference designs to vendors to make a $100 Android phone.

With the new Android One phones made by Micromax, Karbonn and Spice hitting the market by this Diwali, Samsung will have little scope in the lower price band. Unless, the Korean smartphone maker has an ace up its sleeve.