I read an article titled, Google is bringing cheap smartphones to Africa, but it has a problem: China got there first over at QZ. The

China got to Africa before Google’s Android One; Here’s why its no problem

Posted by

I read an article titled, Google is bringing cheap smartphones to Africa, but it has a problem: China got there first over at QZ. The article raises an issue that I would like to address here.

To give you a good view, here are excerpts that highlight the issue I am addressing:

The question for Google is whether Android One offerings will prove more attractive than the cheaper Chinese smartphones currently dominating the market in Africa. These generic handsets, despite running older and slower versions of the Android OS, are available for as little as $50 and reportedly claim two-thirds of the current smartphone market on the continent.


Google is betting the Android One line will compel consumers to ditch the Chinese alternatives. But typically, African smartphone users tend to be brand agnostic and interested in cheap handsets that can offer them a route to the internet.

I seriously doubt that Google is betting that consumers will ditch the Chinese alternatives for its Android One handsets. I believe that Google is betting on collaboration here.

The article fails to point out that the very first Android One handset targeted at Africa is made by a Chinese manufacturer that is currently doing well at the bottom of the pyramid. This is not Android One versus China. Instead, it is Android One with China, as we have seen with the launch of the Infinix Hot 2 in Lagos this week.

Infinix Hot 2 - Android One - Lagos

I remember an Infinix executive telling me in March this year that the brand is looking to “take over the low-end Android market in Nigeria“. In my opinion, Google has made a good choice going with Infinix. Hopefully, we shall see till see even lower-priced Android One smartphones in the Nigerian market.

If Google is smart, that is the way forward: get Chinese manufacturers to produce Android One smartphones for Africa. Google has the software; China has the price advantage. I call it a win-win situation. Yes; China got to Africa before Google’s Android One. But how is that a problem seeing how it is being executed?


  1. it would have been tecno but infinix just grabbed the deal. that is a nice analysis google cant fight with china for the Nigerian market, they can only collaborate. good one yomi aka mr mobility I am patiently waiting for the infinix hot 2 review especially the battery performance.

  2. Google does not make money (directly) from selling handsets. So, it’s no brainer that, the more smartphones running Android the better for Google (and α-βet Corporation). Assisting or teaming up with manufacturers who can push cheap handsets would clearly further the objective of flooding the whole planet with affordable Android_running smartphones…

  3. Correct, simple analysis, Mr. Mo.

    In Africa, especially Nigeria, Google only markets software and as long as the Chinese OEMs are loading Android on their devices, Google is fine.

    So, Android One is only boost to a market that is already favourable to Google because all the Chinese invaders are already using Android on their cheap devices.

  4. Interesting read. Would’ve been such, but Google don’t sell phones. They have the software and the manufacturers have the product advantage. In essence, only a partnership would benefit the interest of both as you rightly pointed out.

  5. exactly, Google isn’t an OEM, they aren’t fighting for device sales. there’s a valid question in therr, but not about numbers

  6. Google doesn’t need to fight… the Chinese are indirectly working for them… Google be lounging like the mafia bosses. but android one looking more alluring than nexus cos of add-ons

  7. what add ons?
    Android One is essentially the Nexus equivalent for the budget segment, they’re aimed at different market segments, there’s little or no overlap

  8. It would have been a serious problem if Microsoft had arrived with its Windows 10 Mobile, as all the Chinese OEMs are already salivating to taste the Windows dish. Good timing, Alphabet!

  9. Yup,that’s it in a nutshell..the more Android powered devices sold by these OEMs the merrier for Google,they ain’t fighting nobody..

  10. Question is: will Chinese OEMS(Mediatek really) join the AndroidOne program en-masse and stop wasting their time with their rubbish S.O.C software?

    Which brings to mind, how many of their SOC offerings has Mediatek signed up into the AndroidOne program?

    These Chinese guys get their chips with the OS installed by Mediatek. Some take the time to mod the UI, others don’t bother. Mediatek do not give out sources for free, u want it, you buy it.

    if Mediatek signs up most or all their chips into the AndroidOne program, then the major advantage of the established OEMS (OS updates) will be eroded.

    but then again, Mediatek is not interested in your updating your device, since they need constant sales because of the low margin business.

    All in all, interesting moves. lets see how it goes

  11. Let us understand some facts:

    • Most phones are made in China.

    • The problem is the established brands tend to overprice their products; imaging the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 almost has the same specs as the HTC One M9+ and the former is selling for almost times three the same amount.

    • Google is interested in increasing Android Market share, Android One is just a Name cos it is still the same OS it runs.

    • Not only Nigerians alone love cheaps phones, even the first world countries do too. they are buying Chinese made smartphones like Oukitel, Oppo, IUNI, Ulefone, OnePlus for less on third-party websites.

  12. Almost all the devices under the Android One program is powered by a Mediatek processor. there is difference between OEMs not pushing updates to phones and the processor used on them.

    and again, Nothing lasts forever, Google only push updates to the devices for two years (after activation).

  13. I’m curious as to how long this love in with Android One will last before the low end manufacturers change tack?

    In another article, the conversation was about how few devices are running Lollipop compared to Kit Kat and Jelly Bean. Personally I don’t see the landscape changing significantly next year this time, but I expect there will be that few more devices running on a slightly newer version of the Android OS than before. However the issue of fragmentation remains (especially at the budget end), and I don’t see the introduction of Android One eliminating that any time soon. Cheap devices will continue to be churned out so long as there is demand, especially in emerging markets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *