Google is pushing its Android One program into Africa, starting in Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Morocco with partnered mobile operator OEM Infinix.
The first device will run Android 5.1 Lollipop, with an upgrade to Android Marshmallow a few weeks after it is released. Free updates will also be available through the local provider MTN, another partner in the Android One program.
Google has a list of hardware suppliers for OEM Infinix to work with, who will supply cheaper components. The mobile operator will also be able to pick a few local apps to pre-install from the Google Play App Store.
This should make the Android One cheaper and more intriguing for people in Africa. Google also mentioned it would be launching YouTube offline in the six countries, allowing users to store the video offline for 48 hours and watch it.
The focus on Africa comes at a time where a lot of the countries are starting to see mobile adoption accelerate. In places like Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia, we are seeing a massive rise in low-end smartphone adoption.
Android One didn’t receive a lot of attention in India when it first launched, but in Indonesia and Turkey it has maintained a strong presence. The move to Africa should pit Google against BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung.
Samsung has been working on building trust with customers in Africa for a while now, pre-loading BlackBerry Messenger on its smartphones in the continent since 2014.