Windows Phone should fear Android One, not the iPhone 6

Google's Android One is bent on world domination

Windows Phone has nothing to fear from the big-bang rollout of the iPhone 6. But Google's Android One project could well ensure that Windows Phone never becomes a serious smartphone contender.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are high-end phones with high-end pricetags. The iPhone 6 will have 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models that will sell for $199, $299 and $399 with two-year contracts. The iPhone 6 Plus will have 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models for $299, $399 and $499 with two-year contracts.

Microsoft is quite happy about that. The company has in essence given up on the high end of the smartphone market. Instead, it's targeting budget-conscious consumers unwilling to fork out so much money for a phone. The company calls its recently announced Lumia 830 Windows Phone, which sports a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 5-inch screen an "affordable flagship."

Chris Weber, corporate vice president of mobile device sales at Microsoft made it clear that price was going to be Microsoft's new marketing strategy for Windows Phone when he said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin:

"We're going to challenge Apple and Samsung and expose the premium they are charging for a phone."

And that's why Microsoft has so much to fear from Android One. Android One is a Google Project designed to reduce the cost of Android phones. Its target is the developing world, where Nokia used to have a big presence, and where Microsoft is hoping to use the Nokia name to get market share with low-cost Windows Phones.

Google is making it easy for phone manufacturers to produce low-cost phones that will run stock Android without any modifications. It's already lined up Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic and Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm. It launches first in India, and then heads to Indonesia, the Philippines and other South Asian countries by year's end.

Google already owns around 80 percent of the world smartphone market. The biggest new markets are in developing countries. That's where Windows Phone needs to make up ground. But with Android One, it's unlikely that Microsoft will make much headway there. So the press may spend its time touting iPhone 6, but the real threat to Microsoft comes from low-cost Android One phones.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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