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Google refusing to abandon Android One project in India

Google is pushing ahead with its Android One budget smartphone project, with the search engine firm looking to improve its position in the Indian handset market.

The Mountain View-based company is also instigating a huge investment push to increase online access in the country.

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Android One is primarily focused on delivering handsets to emerging markets and consumers who have not owned a smartphone before. It runs software that is close to stock Android and the hardware is developed by Google’s original equipment manufacturers (OEM), including Micromax, Karbonn and QMobile. The project has launched across India, Nepal, the Philippines and a number of other countries, but it has not always been well received.

The Financial Times reports that Rajan Anandan, Google’s managing director for India and Southeast Asia, has reiterated his company’s commitment to Android One but conceded that the scheme had “not delivered to expectations” so far.

Android One handsets have been priced at approximately $100 in India, but Mr Anandan believes the project would be more successful if prices were lowered to between $30 and $50. Meanwhile, Google also faces the challenge of increasing its digital advertising revenue in the Asian country.

The online marketing landscape in India remains largely undeveloped, hindered by a lack of mobile online connectivity and bandwidth issues. Google remains committed to gaining a foothold in this market due to India's huge population and the potential revenue that it could generate. The country’s online population is set to exceed 500 million by 2017 and the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google will all be vying to capture a sizeable proportion.

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Aside from renewing its Android One efforts, Google is also developing services that are specifically suited to Indian customers and operate effectively even with lower bandwidths. Products include offline versions of YouTube and Google Maps as well as a leaner version of its search engine.