My eyes were glued to the Keynote presentation. I quickly scanned the room as Google made more announcements about their global Android expansion, most people appeared disengaged, waiting to hear more about products that would affect them immediately. Android One, a smart phone that would use less cell data with faster speeds for spotty third world networks struck an empty chord with the crowd. However, I grew excited about the possibilities this would bring to areas that lacked true access to the grid.
Google is truly trying to encroach their software and technology in developing countries to help inspire innovation, by providing as many assets as they can, so individuals can help themselves become entrepreneurs. Many pockets of the world have yet to reach their full potential, areas such as Indian, Indonesia, and the Philippines are experiencing intense mobile growth. Google is ready to take these regions by storm and help individuals modernize their countries with the help of their tech and software. Let’s start by examining Google’s strategy in these developing countries and how one person can become an entrepreneur with just a phone in their hand.
Over 1.2 Billion phones are expected to ship to developing countries within the next year, the majority of which will be Androids. Not surprising considering the cost of an Android is extraordinarily cheap compared to an iPhone. Possession of a smartphone is still considered a luxury in rural areas, where ten percent of a person’s income goes to the phone itself. The technological needs are so great in these areas there are reported businesses where individuals race over to nearby towns with electricity to simply charge phones.
Google’s release of Android One is but a stepping-stone, the software giant also announced changes to its features allowing Maps and Youtube to work offline. Thereby diminishing cell data usage for impoverished users, many of which still rely on SMS. Imagine poor farmers saving videos on agricultural upkeep without economic detriment, or refugees crossing foreign lands using offline Maps to safely guide them to their asylum. The kicker here is that Google and Android will go one step further and give the entrepreneur an online market place and the educational tools necessary to succeed in the global market.
Android Nano Degree, and the Cloud Test lab were also announced at Google I/O. The ramifications of which are enormous. Individuals who aspire to be developers can take a Nano Degree course for $200 dollars online and pursue scholarships if they lack the economic resources. This is an enormous push for online education especially in areas that lack access to human resources that can teach these valuable skills. While the Cloud Test lab allows full-fledged developers to test their apps, without having the device on hand or even phones allowed in the country! The costs in savings are enormous in resource strapped areas.
Google also announced the creation of Developer pages, were people can view apps by person, similar to a market place where people can walk around and see what is laid out virtually by stand. Well what about marketing? Have no fear. Google also announced the Universal App campaign that will automatize the marketing for home made apps. Imagine new developers across the globe creating apps for their people, because access has become easier and supportive. A girl in Indonesia can purchase an Android One phone, take the Nano Degree course online, and within a few months test her app idea in the Cloud Test Lab. If she is successful she can create her own Developer page and have Google market the app for her. Just within the course of a year, she can become an entrepreneur.
As much as Silicon Valley continues to praise itself for innovation, very few companies have managed to create substantial change in developing worlds. Change has to come from within. You can create an amazing app in a first world country and transfer it over to a third world, but basic access, resource constraints, and cultural obstruction continue to hinder expansion. Android and Google will pave the way for more and more entrepreneurs across the world to enter the digital global arena in their own terms. If you are someone who lives in a developing country it is worth your time and money to invest in the Android/Google ecosystem. The technology, support, and resources are now available to use and implement. Go change the world. Your world.