Android One to Garner 'Likes' for Facebook

Even as Google prepares to pry open larger chunks of the Indian market with an array of cheap smartphones as part of its Android One programme, it will also willy-nilly help rival Facebook grow its India numbers.


Next Monday, Google is widely expected to launch a range of Android One smartphones, mostly priced under . 6,000 ($100). These have been ` developed in partnership with local mobile phone man ufacturers including Micro max, Karbonn and Spice.They are expected to be loaded with top-end features like dual core chip, 5 MP camera, 4.5 inch display .


But, as these cheap and powerful smartphones flood the market, Facebook will benefit as much as Google as new smartphone users will also log into the former's popular social networking and messenger applications.


Facebook has 108 million users in India active monthly, of which 94 million access it on a mobile.


“A low-cost smartphone which allows a good user experience will accelerate adoption of Facebook,“ says Jessie Paul, CEO, Paul Writer Strategic Advisory , a marketing consultancy . “In fact, it could take Facebook's access on mobile devices to 100% from about 93% at present.“


“We are now looking forward to one billion users in India. That is a different focus and challenge,“ Javier Olivan, vice-president, growth & analytics, Facebook, had told ET in a March interview. Google's Android One will make the challenge easier.


Google, Facebook and much of the Internet companies ecosystem are often referred to as `frenemies'. They are friends in the sense that the success of any one company invariably yields spin-off benefits for others; enemies because all of them compete for the same users and online advertising dollars. Google’s Android One program will not only benefit Facebook, but the entire gamut of social networking companies including Twitter, Instagram etc, all of which will gain more smartphone users.


But Facebook could gain more than others, since it has the largest user base in India. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has crafted a mobile first strategy for Facebook and has publicly admitted the company’s biggest mistake was “we burned two years not working on mobile.” “Every service will benefit, be it Facebook, Whatsapp or Skype,” says Katyayan Gupta, analyst, eBusiness & Channel strategy, Forrester Research.


Google and Facebook declined to comment on this story.


Android One is tipped to be a game changer in the smartphone market, delivering a better experience to users. “Lowcost Android smartphones have poor touch screen, poor camera and poor memory. This impacts user experience be it Facebook or Google docs,” says Forrester’s Gupta.

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