With an eye on 2G mobile users, Reliance Industries is working on a strategy to sell 200 million 4G feature phones — likely to be priced Rs 1,000- 1,500 — in two years, industry sources told PTI. The company is planning to launch it in the second half of August. However, it could not be ascertained if the handsets will be sold by Reliance Retail or Jio. “Reliance has not yet finalised actual unit price of the feature phones, but it is likely to be in the range of Rs 1,000-1,500 a unit. It will be smart feature phone with pre- loaded apps of Reliance Jio like Jio TV, Jio Money etc,” one of the sources who did not wish to be named said.
He said the phone will not have touchscreen facility like smartphones, but will have rest of facilities like wi-fi connectivity and browsing and come with a cable that can connect the handset with television sets to watch Jio TV content. “The company is eyeing 2G users who cannot afford expensive smartphones and are paying high call rates. Jio’s voice calls will be free which will encourage them to buy these handsets,” the source said. Reliance Jio has started the process of importing handsets and is in discussion with Foxconn and Intex to make them in India.
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“Around 10 million units are being planned for initial sales and the company has plans to increase inventory to 100 million in the first year and another 100 million next year. Discussions have started with Foxconn and Intex to make these phones in India,” the source said. Mobile industry body Indian Cellular Association in a submission to the government has said the total size of Indian mobile phone market was estimated to be around 280 million units in 2016 and is expected to grow to 320 million by 2018. A source privy to discussions said Intex had approached RIL for bundling Jio service for a state government tender.
“Intex will bid for a state government tender which has huge requirement of low-cost mobile phone, but it wants bidder to come with a service provider. The economy of scale is enough to bring down the cost of phone. The discussion with RIL started for this tender and is now moving in direction for low-cost 4G feature phones,” the source said. He said Jio will use Qualcomm chipsets in 4G feature phones. When contacted, Reliance Jio declined to comment. Intex said: “…we are exploring various business opportunities, including those with Reliance Jio, and would keep you updated about the details as they materialise. We also keep participating in various state governments’ tenders and are always keen to work with them.”