Reliance Jio plan to launch a new 45 feature phone for less than Rs 1500. Reportedly, the phone will be created in partnership with Google in India. While most smartphone makers have now switched to 4G devices even for their entry level offerings, the feature phone segment , which remains India’s largest market, is still led by 2G and 3G devices. Reliance Jio, being a 4G exclusive network is missing out on tapping the rural and semi-urban areas where feature phones are all the rage. Therefore, the plans to launch a new 4G feature phone for less than Rs 1500.
But where does Google come in? While Reliance Jio already has a long slew of devices under their Lyf brand from prices as low as Rs 2999 to well in the mid-range segment, partnering with Google will provide the devices some much needed credibility. With the launch of Google Pixel, Google has officially entered the smartphone manufacturing space and while the Google-Jio device will not be manufactured by but only backed by Google, carrying the Google tag will give the phone the boost and the credibility in the country. The feature phone will come pre-installed with Reliance Jio apps and also have access to Play Store.
This is not Google’s first venture in the smartphone space in India. Google did try and launch Android One, their budget Android smartphones through multiple Indian smartphone manufacturers like Micromax, Karbonn, etc in the past. However, this project did not gain the required reach as there were other brands offering better features at similar prices. This time around, Google is partnering with Reliance Jio, which has taken the Indian market by storm and has managed to tap the right crowd by offering 4G services for free and now, at ludicrously cheap rates.
While Both, Reliance Jio and Google are yet to confirm the news, it could definitely mean a complete turn-around for the Indian feature phone industry too. Reportedly, the new Jio-Google phone will be exclusive to the Jio network (a CDMA 4G phone, Jio?) and will have a host of other benefits apart from the standard benefits extended to Jio subscribers. Google will be responsible for the marketing of the device with Reliance will handle the production. It seems a little dreamy for now, but with this combination, looks like Jio is now set to disrupt the handset space next.