Viacom 18 Media, a leading entertainment network that is now part of Reliance Industries, has tied up with Chinese smartphone maker vivo, a BBK Communication Technology brand, to market its 4G handsets in India.
Interestingly, the deal comes at a time when RIL’s telecom arm, Reliance Jio, is gearing up to launch its pan-India mobile operations. RJio, which holds pan-India broadband wireless access (BWA) or 4G spectrum, is expected to launch mobile services sometime next year.
Though both Viacom and Guangdong-based vivo have said the tie-up is basically to facilitate vivo as a mobile brand in India, the deal has fueled speculations of a possible move by RJio to bundle 4G mobile and services, and make it available through its platform once it starts its 4G operations in India.
Jacy Liao, director, vivo Mobile India, told FE that his company doesn’t have any plans for a tie-up with RJio right now. “We have not discussed any such thing with RJio at this moment. But we will explore all possible ways to market vivo as a global mobile brand in India,” Liao explained.
“We have plans to be part of the new government’s Make in India campaign. We would set-up our own manufacturing facility in India the in next three years,” he added.
Foreign handset makers, especially from China, are flooding the Indian market with 4G handsets. Recently, Xiaomi tied-up with Bharti Airtel to sell its 4G handset, the Redme Note 4G, priced at Rs 9,999.
Vodafone is now testing its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in order to remain competitive against aggressive rollouts by rivals like RJio and Bharti Airtel.
China’s vivo plans to launch four models of 4G and 3G handsets in India shortly, including its 4G x-shot handset. The company would keep price in the range of under Rs 10,000 to Rs 35,000. Last month, the Chinese handset maker sold more smartphones in China than Apple. It has inked pacts with distributors in 20 states and will go ahead with its expansion plans.
By Sanjay Singh