Google launches Android One smartphone program in Africa

Google teams with regional players to get low-cost phone to developing countries

Google has introduced its Android One smartphone program for countries in Africa, after its launch in India last September and subsequent roll-out in 10 other emerging markets including Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey and Philippines.

The Android One device available in Africa, made by Hong Kong-based Infinix, is called the Hot 2, and is now available in Nigeria at select retail outlets and via online retailer Jumia at a suggested retail price of 17,500 Nigerian naira (US$88). It’s also available online from Jumia in Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Morocco.

The combined population of the six African countries is 379 milion people. Google has targeted Android One at OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that make phones for emerging markets. To reach its goal of bringing Android to five bilion people, Google needs to embrace the developing world.

Google controls the development, design, and marketing of the devices, while leaving the building of the phones to partner manufacturers.

“The software on Android One devices automatically updates to th

infinixhot2devices 850 Google

The Infinix Hot 2 is an Android One phone aimed at the African market.

e latest version of Android and will get the Android M release after release. The goal is to provide a consistent and uncompromising smartphone experience, for everyone,” Google VP of product management, Caesar Sengupta, said in a blog post.

The Infinix Hot 2 offers a quad-core MediaTek processor, dual SIM slots, front and rear-facing cameras, an FM radio tuner, and 16GB internal memory for movies and music, according to Google. Its standard version, with 1GB memory, is available in four colors and the premium version (with 2GB memory) is available in gold, Google said.

Hot 2 runs the latest version of pure Android (Lollipop 5.1), which provides up to 2x better performance and extended battery features compared to prior versions, Google said.

In a nod to connectivity issues that plague developing markets, Google will release a new offline feature within the YouTube app later this year, Sengupta added. This feature will make it possible for people to take videos offline to watch later during short periods of low or no Internet connectivity, he said. Users will be able to add videos for offline viewing for up to 48 hours without an Internet connection.

The new phone will compete with a range of other devices—many from regional brands that are not globally recognized—aimed at the African market. For example Jumia, as well as rival e-commerce platform Konga.com, also deals with phone makers Tecno, Innjoo, iMose, Tuoda and Intex. Just last week, India’s Intex Technologies partnered with Jumia to sell the Aqua and Cloud smartphones in the Ivory Coast.

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By Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji

IDG News Service
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