Friday 22 March 2013

Android smartphone for $50 is not far away, says Eric Schmidt

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is on a whirlwind tour through Asia and the ex-CEO of the search giant said it’s not long before we see a basic smartphone with a web browser and web-client apps for $50 (or approximately Rs 2,700).

At a meeting today with journalists in New Delhi, Schmidt said such a phone is certainly a possibility in the near future, while also mentioning that Google has been encouraging manufacturers to bring down the cost of their smartphones.

In a way, the company has set an example for others with the Nexus 4, the base model of which is available for $299 (Approx Rs 16,000). And the Nexus 4, which was manufactured by LG, has not skimmed on any major hardware aspect, at least as far as India is concerned. Schmidt said cheap smartphones are the key to giving mobile-based Internet penetration a big push, especially in countries like India.

If and when such a smartphone becomes available in India, it will be of a huge significance. Already, mobile Internet penetration in India is growing at a fast pace. The share of mobile-based Internet usage is 25 percent in India, whereas the overall global number is less than 15 percent. The numbers are bound to increase as more and more people can afford smartphones, especially if the Rs 2,700 price tag is achievable.

Schmidt is in New Delhi to speak at The Guardian's Big Tent Activate India event, which is scheduled for tomorrow.

Earlier, in a column for a leading daily, Schmidt exhorted the Indian establishment and those in power to allow the flourishing of an open Internet in the country. Schmidt said: “Only about two billion of the world's seven billion people have an internet connection, and I believe the remaining five billion will get one in the next decade. Almost one billion of them will come online in India. They will have different needs from people online today and expect different things from the internet. Now is the moment for India to decide what kind of internet it wants for them: an open internet that benefits all or a highly regulated one that inhibits innovation.”

He further said, “The past 10 years show that the safest economic, social and political bet is on openness. Where there is a free and open Web, where there is unbridled technological progress, where information can be disseminated and consumed freely, society flourishes."

The influential Google chairman then went on to give myriad examples of how Indian entrepreneurs have used the power of the Internet to help solve local problems and how some of these have become models for international Internet-based services and businesses.

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