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The Smartphone Giveth and the Smartphone Taketh Away

Falling prices of smartphones are causing a shakeup in the hardware part of the industry, opening the door to upstart phone brands, component makers and in some cases to also-rans in the mobile chip world, like Intel.

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Gionee India, the company’s joint venture, benefits from its tight relationship with Gionee of China, which makes phones for other companies and also has its own consumer brand that’s sold in other countries. It employees 1,200 hardware engineers and 400 software engineers that “optimize” the devices and help set them apart from the Android pack, Mr. Vohra says.

“My quality is similar to Samsung but 35 percent below it in price,” he says.

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Google would like hardware costs to drop to zero. That way, devices preloaded with Google’s revenue-generating apps will get to many more people’s hands.