Frugal Innovation

Android One looks to be the perfect example for global companies pondering overFrugal Innovation. The project seems to have got quite a few things absolutely right.

  • The consumer price point seems to be just right to target the lower and the middle income population which is a significant chunk of India’s whole.
  • The assembly is done locally by local partners.
  • The specs look highly competitive.
  • The software and some features are tuned to Indian needs and sensibilities.

Though they do not make money directly, Google’s monetization strategy from services like Search, Youtube, Mail look pretty sound and they should add significantly to their bottom-line from these markets. Especially since they could have a first movers advantage in the nascent vernacular markets.

There is an obvious lesson here for tackling the ‘Emerging Markets’ conundrums that lot of product teams in global companies face.

  • Deciding what features to strip so as to de-value their cutting edge innovations to make it affordable in these markets (eg Car manufacturers)
  • Bringing their innovations as-is with a significant cost reduction and risk “brand dilution”.
  • Sell products targeting a premium and niche customer base and fail to gain suitable market traction.

Google seems to have found a solution for all these difficulties and might just go on to create a customer base of the next 5 billion smartphone users.

Can this be a template for others? Only time can decide.

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Originally posted on LinkedIn at

By shashi

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