Reliance Jio is said to be in talks with Techain, Uniscope and FortuneShip, all Chinese manufacturers, with an aim to explore avenues to make 4G VoLTE feature phones. Sources have told FE, that as of now, the talks are at a very nascent stage and it is very early to understand what type of orders will be ultimately placed by Jio and the estimated time. It is also unclear whether these will be the manufacturers with whom the deal will finally happen or not. Meanwhile, according to a report in ET, Jio is working with Shanghai-based Spreadtrum Communications to manufacture its 4G phones affordable by launching it with a price tag of Rs 1,500.
Sources have told FE that Jio is very keen to introduce 4G VoLTE feature phones in the Indian market. It has also asked for a few engineering samples from Chinese contract phone makers. Usually, after the engineering samples get tested and verified, commercial order are placed by a company. Jio, incidentally, has its own line-up of LYF branded phones, but even the cheapest device costs around Rs 3,000. A new feature phone at half the price might just be the thing to trigger up Jio’s already disruptive market strategies.
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With a 4G VoLTE phone, Jio’s importance in the market will grow, because it totally depends on 4G network for calling, mobile data and more. Generally, feature phones are known to support 2G or 3G speeds, but with the introduction of 4G, it will attract a lot of new customers who couldn’t afford it before this. The only competition as of now is the homegrown Lava 4G Connect M1 which was launched this year, but that too has been priced at Rs 3,333.
In India where more than half the market share is still grabbed by feature phone, Jio has a big opportunity to grab. Other Indian companies like Micromax and Intex are also ready to roll out their 4G VoLTE feature phones by June, this year and it is expected that the prices will be below Rs 2,000.
Jaipal Singh, Market Analyst at research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) had told FE, “Indian handset market will see a jump in 4G feature phones sales after July this year when Reliance Jio is expected to come in the picture with lower priced 4G feature phones, as the prices of these phones are currently high in Indian market.”