There will be as many as 339 million budget Android smartphones shipped across the world by 2015, according to analysts at In-Stat.
We’re talking the sub-$150 range, the kind of device companies like Huawei and ZTE have been churning out in both developed and emerging economies. Basically, Android holds a desirable position as the operating system of choice for the low-cost smartphone.
Analysts at In-Stat believe that the market segment could really heat up when other vendors clock on to the market opportunity.
Generally speaking, at the very low end the smartphones will have a single-core EDGE chip which goes for under $10 a pop.
With the easy availability of Android – Google wants some variant of its OS everywhere it can get it – even smaller phone manufacturers have a chance to turn a buck, but they’re likely to be outshone by the big guns at Huawei, Motorola, Samsung and ZTE.
Still, the smaller competitors are tipped by In-Stat to turn to the grey market – where manufacturers don’t have to worry about licence fees and royalties.
The concern will be in emerging markets. For example, while Nokia frets about its Western customers there are millions and millions of people buying low-cost feature-phones. They’re durable, have a long charge which is essential for more rural areas, and you can still get online.
A low-cost smartphone, as it stands today, isn’t yet ideally suited emerging economies, but with longer lasting power and as the bill of materials decreases we could see a change there.