Reliance JioPhone – Exploring opportunities in Smartphone race to the bottom

A few weeks ago, I blogged about smartphone opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid.  India’s conglomerate, Reliance, is taking a leaf out of the playbook  by offering its ‘poor man’s smartphone’ for FREE.

Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio), the telecom arm of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries (RIL), has unveiled a a handset that is “made in India by young Indians for all Indians”, the Jio phone. The Jio phone is provided with an “effective price of Rs. zero”, compared with an entry-level smartphone that costs between Rs. 3,500-4,000.

At this point we don’t have a lot of specifications on the JioPhone other than the picture shared during the company’s AGM and that it is 4G. The indications are that it is a ‘low end’ smartphone.


Jio Phone features

  • Phone is for FREE.’ However, subscribers will have to deposit 1500 Rupees (about $30) for three years
  • Users of JioPhone can enjoy unlimited voice calls, 4G data, and access to Jio apps for just Rs. 153.
  • It comes with a validity of 28 days and the unlimited 4G data has a FUP of just 500MB per day. Apart from the Rs. 153 plan, the JioPhone users can also avail the small recharge packs of Rs. 24 for two days and Rs. 54 per week.
  • For streaming content from JioPhone, the customers have to opt for Rs. 309 plan instead of Rs. 153 basic monthly plan.
  • The phone comes with a JioPhone TV cable that can even be plugged into any TV  including the older CRT TVs.
  • The device also supports the 22 Indian regional languages.
  • The phone sports a 2.4″ QVGA display and is said to come in compact form factor.
  • How to get one? The phone is currently under ‘pre order’ via web (link) and Reliance Digital stores

“Starting August 15 this year, I am declaring digital freedom for all feature phone users,” Ambani said at RIL’s 40th AGM here today.

“First, the voice will always remain free on Jio phone,” Ambani said, adding, that the handset comes with access to unlimited data with a monthly tariff of Rs. 153. “…that is one-thirtieth, 3 per cent of the existing price,” he said.

In just 6 months of Jio’s launch, data consumption in India went from 20 crore GB to 120 crore GB per month. Jio users consistently make more than 250 crore minutes of voice and video calls every single day, he said.

“In less than 170 days, more than 100 million customers have signed up for Jio’s services. On an average, RJio has added 7 customers per second every single day, and RJio has broken one world record after another,” he added.  “We enabled Jio users to make unlimited voice calls from anywhere to everywhere in India, absolutely free. This was the fastest adoption of any technology service, anywhere in the world, faster than Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype”

 Does this spell opportunities for startups ?

  • Opportunity to explore developer ecosystem around JioPhone – the phone goes into beta test by end of July 2017 and App Developers are sure to jump the bandwagon.
  • Software companies have realized the need for customizing Apps for emerging markets. Mobile Apps designed for high-end smartphones that require strong and steady bandwidth don’t work well – or don’t work at all. Entrepreneurs and startups have signed up for PWA and other mobile development platforms that enable the development of low-bandwidth applications. Some developers are experimenting with techniques to auto-recognize available bandwidth and switch Apps between low and high bandwidth, based on availability.
  • Resellers and support – Small businesses and startups, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities will have an opportunities to build small-scale operations to resell and support the phones. It is unclear at this time if Reliance will take in franchisees.

| Compiled and Edited by: Mohan K  |

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