Global shipments of low-cost Android smartphones are expected to explode over the next four years. A new report from market intelligence firm In-Stat suggests that annual shipments of sub-$150 Android phones will reach 339 million units in 2015. In-Stat says that consumers in the market for smartphones with such a low unsubsidized cost only have one option — Android — leaving current (Symbian) and future (Nokia’s secret new OS) platforms high and dry. Even in 2013, however, In-Stat views fragmentation as an issue and says the spec requirements of newer Android builds like Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will keep it off low-end phones. Read on for more.
“The low-cost Android handset segment will cause some fragmentation in the Android platform,” said In-Stat Research Director Allen Nogee in a statement. “Most low-cost Android smartphones are likely to be released with Android 2.2 or 2.3, since these versions are a good blend of features with modest memory and processor usage. The Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) step-up in memory and processor demands makes this release less attractive for low-cost Android devices.”
In-Stat’s Less is More: The Worldwide Emergence of Low-Cost Android Smartphones report notes that this segment of the smartphone market will generally stick to EDGE networks in the coming years, and processors speeds are likely to remain at 600MHz or less, as processors in this range can be purchased from chip manufacturers for less than $10. The firm also notes that smaller smartphone vendors may also purchase components from the “gray market” to save on costs associated with the licensing fees, royalties and taxes larger manufacturers pay on their products.