Google has announced plans to target new markets for its free operating software Android by introducing applications for cars, televisions and watches by the end of this year.
The new Android expansion strategy has been unveiled during Google’s annual Android developers’ conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Android software currently dominates the smartphone market with three out of four smartphones sold globally running Google’s open-source software. The California head-quartered tech giant hopes to secure its position in the expanding Internet of Things domain, targeted also by its biggest rival Apple.
More than 40 auto companies had signed onto Google’s software development alliance. However, it has not been disclosed which car manufacturers actually plan to integrate Android into their cars. The first Android-powered smartcars have been said to hit the showrooms by the end of 2014, featuring smart applications for navigation, music and messaging.
During a presentation at the conference, executives demonstrated a new Android TV concept, reviving Google's foray into streaming video. TV version of Android comes four years after Google's first effort to enter the living room, via Google TV, failed to catch on with consumers.
"It's a land grab," said Sameet Sinha, an analyst with investment bank B. Riley & Co. "The person who gets a platform which controls the devices could be the dominant operating system, not of just devices, it could be the operating system of your home."
Google also unveiled a service, called "Google Fit," which collates and tracks users’ health and personal fitness information similar to recently introduced services from Apple and Samsung. The tracking and analysis of health information is expected to become a big driver behind the adoption of smartwatches and other sensor-laden devices this year.
Samsung and LG smartwatches running Android Wear, the version of Android tailored for wearable devices, went on sale on Wednesday.
Google's annual conference is designed to introduce new Android features to its army of developers, who are crucial in creating apps that keep the software popular as it competes with Apple's iOS.
Apple and Google are now going head-to-head in emerging countries like India and China, where there remains room to grow in terms of smartphone adoption, especially as compared with saturated markets like the United States and Europe.
On Wednesday, Google said it is working with three manufacturers to develop a sub-$100 smartphone for the Indian market.
Developed under the "Android One" initiative aimed at getting phones into the hands of as many people around the globe as possible, the phones will sport 4.5-inch screens and dual SIM cards, Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai told the conference.