Reliance Jio Phone to drive VoLTE devices numbers to 500 mn as India set to take to new feature phone

Published: July 28, 2017 6:29:39 AM

While it took a year for sales of VoLTE smartphones in India to rise from 50 million to 150 million according to data from Counterpoint, the number could rise to 500 million in another year now that Reliance Jio has announced its plans to bring in a VoLTE feature phone at a ‘cost’ of Rs 1,500.

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Shabnam Bahadur

While it took a year for sales of VoLTE smartphones in India to rise from 50 million to 150 million according to data from Counterpoint, the number could rise to 500 million in another year now that Reliance Jio has announced its plans to bring in a VoLTE feature phone at a ‘cost’ of Rs 1,500. RJio has said it will bring in around 5 million such phones a week, and now that the phone has been developed, chances are phone manufacturers may bring in me-toos quite quickly, certainly by the end of the year.

If the phone is not subsidised by telcos, it will likely cost around Rs 2,300-2,400 — even before RJio announced its phone, Lava had a VoLTE feature phone that cost around Rs 3,500; unlike the RJio phone, these new phones will not be locked into any telco network. At its analyst call on Wednesday, Bharti Airtel had said that it would not be subsidising phone manufacturers.

Though it is not clear if incumbent telecom players will match RJio’s latest offering of free voice and 0.5 GB per day — Rs 153 for a 28-day cycle — of data on its feature phone, if the JioPhone is bought by large numbers, it will put pressure on incumbents to match the offer. While there are, according to a Kotak report, over 200 million subscribers who currently pay over Rs 140 per month by way of mobile phone charges, if RJio is able to arrange attractive bank financing, this will play a big role — theoretically, since RJio is guaranteeing repayment of Rs 1,500 after three years, it may be possible to work out finance deals where the customer payout is Rs 600-700 for RJio phones.

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