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Android One in India needs lower price, Google says

The platform, which is designed to provide low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, has "not delivered to expectations" in India yet, the search giant says.

The Spice Android One Dream UNO is one of the first Android One devices available in India. Spice

Google's low-cost Android One platform is not as successful as the company would like, and now it's planning to work with handset makers in India to boost adoption.

Android One has "not delivered to expectations," Google managing director in India and Southeast Asia Rajan Anandan told the Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday. He said that the platform, which faced "a few hiccups," will require that phones hit the "sweet spot" of pricing at up to $50 per device to be successful in India.

Android One launched in September 2014 as an alternative operating system for emerging markets. The platform, which is essentially a stripped-down version of Google's standard Android, was adopted in India by four local device makers, including Micromax and Karbonn. Android One devices are also available in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and other emerging markets.

The battle over India, however, may prove to be the most important for Google's interest in Android One. With nearly 1.3 billion people and many that have yet to own a smartphone, India represents a massive opportunity for every software and hardware developer around the world. For now, though, India's poverty issues have made customers more cost-conscious and the greatest mobile opportunity for companies is to deliver low-cost devices and stripped-down software capable of running on those products.

Google is by no means the only company that has its sights set on India. Xiaomi, the second-largest China-based handset manufacturer behind Huawei, has expanded its presence significantly in India with its Mi line of smartphones. Xiaomi's smartphones in India are slightly higher end, but boast comparatively low price tags.

Xiaomi on Monday announced that it would start producing the Redmi 2 Prime, a device that features a 4.7-inch HD display, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, and 16GB of onboard storage. The device, which will also be manufactured in India as part of a broader push by the company to attract the Indian government and its customers, will retail for 6,999 rupees (about $109).

Still, Google believes that in order for Android One devices to be successful, prices will have to come down even more. Over next few years, Anandan told the Financial Times, Android One device pricing should come down to as little as 2,000 rupees. Google will not produce hardware on its own, but has plans to work with Android One vendors that would attempt to get prices down to that price.

Google declined additional comment on its plans for India.