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.
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?