POV: Success of Lumia 520 forced Google to focus on lower end with #Android 4.4 Kitkat.

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While Lumia 520 has  been a roaring success for Nokia and Windows Phone platform and has helped push the WP shipment above 10 million for the first time, it may have also threatened the market leader Android. Android has also chartered its growth by tapping mass market with cheaper low-end devices and spreading the word, which ultimately converted to demand for higher-end Android devices.

Even now the lower end Android devices are actually responsible for growth of Android and the most important region for growth is Asia Pacific. Considering this, when markets like India, China, Vietnam etc are enthusiastically adopting Lumia 520 en masse, there are lots to worry about for Google. There are two important reasons which make Lumia 520 clear choice over budget Android offerings,

  • Performance and smooth UI operation. Low-end Androids are laggy and buggy mess, while Lumia 520 can compete to any premium smartphone in performance and smooth operation.
  • Lack of updates due to high memory footprint of latest Android versions. Though Android low-end hardware may look good on papers but it always becomes insufficient for hungry new version.

Now, Google have noticed it pretty well and they know if Windows Phone can grow its install base at rapid pace with quality offerings like Lumia 520, then it spells danger for them going forward. It may be “Android growth story” for Windows Phone as well, if Microsoft plays it well.

So, they have shown urgency in tackling this with the latest Android 4.4 KitKat update. According to them not only it reduces memory footprint and makes it possible for low-end Androids to update but they also talk about their focus to reach “the next 1 billion users”. Sounds familiar!! Huh, as we said earlier, now Google is getting inspired by Nokia’s ideas.

Building a platform that makes mobile phones accessible for everyone has always been at the heart of Android. Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn’t benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints. With KitKat, we’ve slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.

However, Android is such a massive OS and we have already seen fate of “Project Butter” which was supposed to make Android experience smoother, so the low-end getting better with Kitkat is much doubtful. On top of that everyone from Samsung to Huawei have their own clunky UIs pasted over Android.

In short, the fragmentation in Android still offers a chance for MS and Nokia to further strengthen  their push. But, what they must do is to bring equally compelling offers like Lumia 520 to replace it soon, as it has been many quarters in launch already.

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