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Android to aim new operating system at low-end phones, emerging markets?

Posting in Technology

As of May 2013, 900 million Android phones have been activated around the world. But that leaves out a growing chunk of the developing world -- one that is reliant upon cheap mobile phones.

The problem is that its current operating system requires far too much memory (RAM) to run on older or cheaper smartphones. If the unconfirmed, albeit credible, rumor is true, Android 5.0 (code-named Key-Lime Pie) would require only 512 megabytes of RAM, allowing it to run on smartphones that cost as little as $100.

In trying to expand to emerging markets, Android's OS has the advantage of being able to run on a variety of hardware. In contrast, Apple's single product, the iPhone, may be popular in developed countries but its prohibitive price tag makes it an unlikely choice for mass adoption in the developing world. Part of the reason Nokia still claims sizable market share in India is because it sells phones priced between $50 and $100.

If Android's operating system can be streamlined to run on lower-end smartphones, that would open up a potential market of billions for Google.

Photo: Android

via [Quartz]

— By on June 17, 2013, 9:12 PM PST

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure