• Google reportedly partnering with mulitple Indian companies to bring Android Oreo (Go edition) phones to market
  • First entry-level smartphone expected to launch later this month for the equivalent of just $31
  • Micromax, Intex, Lava, and Karbonn named as partners

Google’s mission to bring affordable, entry-level smartphones to emerging markets could soon be kicked up a notch in India.

According to a new report from Factor Daily citing multiple unnamed sources, the search giant is teaming up with a handful of manufacturers to create sub-$100, 4G-capable smartphones that run Android Oreo (Go edition).

The vendors involved in the initiative reportedly include more established Android OEMs like Micromax, as well as several manufacturers typically associated with simple feature phones. Other companies noted in the report include Intex, Lava, and Karbonn.

A new smartphone running Google’s leaner, data-efficient OS will apparently hit the market later this month “on Republic Day or around it” – Republic Day falls on January 26th this year.

The Micromax phone is expected to retail at just ₹2,000 (around $31), which is a significant drop from the usual $100 price-tag of most entry-level smartphones in India.

Micromax’s offering appears to mark the start of a much broader campaign, however. The report quotes an anonymous “Google official” who allegedly said: “We expect Android Oreo (Go edition) devices to launch in early 2018,” implying that plenty more budget devices are on the way very soon.

By offering entry-level smartphones at feature phone prices, the imminent launch of Go-powered Android devices could be the next piece of the puzzle in Google’s ambitious Next Billion Users campaign.

The Go variant of Android Oreo arrived in late December, supplanting Android One as the entry-level Google OS of choice. Android Go (Oreo edition) is essentially a lightweight version of the regular Oreo experience designed for smartphones with 1 GB of RAM or less, complete with leaner, Go-branded apps, and a streamlined Google Play Store.

In an important development, Qualcomm and MediaTek both recently announced that they will be creating processors that are optimized for Android Oreo (Go edition). Support from the two chipset makers could prove crucial as Google inevitably looks to expand its horizons beyond India to other emergent markets in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and South East Asia.

For now, though, Google seems set on snatching as much revenue as it can in the second-largest smartphone market in the world where devices with high price-performance ratios from Samsung and Xiaomi have proved incredibly popular.

Will a flurry of Android Oreo (Go edition) phones fulfill that goal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.



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