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Low-cost Android phones boom in emerging areas

Posted: 17 Feb 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:low-cost Android  smartphone  market share 

Android handsets will reach a penetration rate of 80 per cent of total smartphones in Africa, India and China by 2015, according to In-Stat's latest research titled, "Less is More: The Worldwide Emergence of Low-Cost Android Smartphones."

In fact, in just two years, Android has become the top smartphone OS globally, although the software version in markets such as the U.S. and Europe are not similar to the low-cost Android.

Low-cost Android smartphones are mostly smartphones released with Android 2.2 or 2.3, since these versions are a good blend of features with modest memory and processor usage. The low-end smartphones generally stick with EDGE and processors running at 600MHz or lower, because a single-core EDGE chip sells for well under Rs.510.20 ($10). As an operational definition, low-cost means smartphones that are Rs.7,653.06 ($150) or less. Smaller phone manufacturers will sometimes purchase from the 'grey market' where component manufacturers typically don't pay licensing fees, royalties or taxes for the products they produce. Early competitors in the market include Huawei, MicroMax, Motorola, Samsung, Spice and ZTE.

"All-in-all, the way that Android has spread worldwide, low-cost Android will also spread worldwide. But, where most Android phones are being sold in developed regions of the world, low-cost Android will flourish in emerging areas. However, it will face heavy competition in some regions," noted Allen Nogee, research director at In-Stat. "Samsung has bada and Nokia is developing Meltemi. In addition, Microsoft has stated that it wants to sell Windows Phone in these developing regions as well and could aggressively lower prices to gain market share. While Google profits in these regions from advertising revenue, Nokia and Samsung benefit the old-fashioned way, by selling hardware."

The research revealed that unit shipments for low-cost Android smartphones will approach 34 crore worldwide in 2015. Consequently, this is seen to cause some fragmentation in the Android platform, said In-Stat. In addition, the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) step-up in memory and processor demands makes this release less attractive for low-cost Android devices.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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