YouTube to go offline in India on Android phones

YouTube to go offline in India on Android phones
Google Inc's partnership with three Indian phone makers is set to rev up fast-growing demand for lower priced smartphones, and spell more trouble for Samsung Electronics which is rapidly losing share in emerging markets.

NEW DELHI - YouTube users in India will soon be able to save videos from the Google-owned service, making it possible to watch them offline, and the feature will eventually be available globally, the company said Monday.

The feature will be available through the YouTube app on Google's new US$105 (S$133) -Android One smartphones unveiled in New Delhi on Monday.

"YouTube will be available offline soon, starting with India," Google India communications manager Gaurav Bhaskar told AFP.

Smartphones using Google's Android operating system are used by more than one billion people globally and the new Android One phone is part of the company's drive to reach out to billions more.

The company said the YouTube save service will be available soon but gave no date. It did not give any indication when it would be extended to other parts of the world.

The new YouTube save feature will be "a great benefit for when there is a slow connection or re-watching videos without using up the data plan", said Bhaskar.

Google has tied up with local Indian handset makers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to make Android One Smartphones that will start at 6,399-rupee ($105).

"While 1.75-billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world's population - over five billion more - do not," said Sundar Pichai, a senior Google vice president.

Google said the phones will be "high-quality" and "affordable" smartphones sold through online Indian retailers.

The new Google phones come with improved security features and more than a million apps, the company said.

Smartphone-makers are in a race to the bottom of India's economic pyramid as they battle for customers in the fast-growing low-end market segment where analysts say opportunities are vast.

India is now the fastest-expanding smartphone market globally and the third-largest market after China and the United States, according to Britain-based consultancy Canalys.

The cheapest smartphones now retail at 2,000 rupees ($33), down from an average 15,000 rupees two years ago.

Technology consultancy IDC India projects annual smartphone sales growth of around 40 percent for the next five years in the price-sensitive nation, home to 33 percent of the world's poor.

Smartphones now hold a 10 percent market share among India's mobile-phone-using population, according to consultancy IDC.

Handset makers in India and other emerging markets have been leapfrogging fixed-line technology that was used in developed markets.

They are employing mobile broadband to deliver Internet access to people who have no computers.

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