With some reports on Monday suggesting Reliance Jio is already looking to look away from its much-hyped Jio Phone, the company has said that it is still committed to the 4G attribute phone that was announced at the Reliance AGM in July.
In a statement to Gadgets 360, a Reliance Jio spokesperson said, “Jio Phone, ‘India ka smartphone’ is committed to fulfilling the country’s digital vision. Jio welcomes the initial 6 million Indians that are moving to digital life with the JioPhone and will soon announce another JioPhone booking date.”
Media reports earlier on Monday claimed growth on Jio Phone is being stopped since the provider explores an Android phone to provide more apps on the platform to users. The handset is based on KAI OS, a branch of the HTML5-based Firefox OS.
But, Gadgets 360 has learned that Jio is working on bringing more apps to the Jio Phone app store, with a focus on the needs of rural customers. These include the travel programs to book bus tickets, in addition to entertainment apps. As mentioned earlier, it is also in discussions to bring Facebook and WhatsApp on its own platform. But as of today, the Jio Phone app store simply feature the firm’s proprietary programs, such as JioMusic, JioCinema, along with many others.
The Jio Phone is aimed toward the bottom end of the Indian mobile phone market, at consumers that are yet to switch out of attribute phones to smartphones. According to some estimates, the business originally aimed to market 100-200 million units of the handset over the next few years. Its highlight, of course, is the access to 4G Internet along with also the zero ‘effective price’; in the time of purchase, however, they still need to pay Rs. 1,500. Users can stream music and videos, surf the Web, and also mirror content playing on the phone onto a TV using a proprietary cable.
The delivery has been slow as well, with customers in urban areas getting their units in late October for bookings made in August.
In the meantime, rival telecom operators have begun partnering with phone manufacturers to bringing down the price of not only feature phones but also Android phones, thus lowering the entry barrier to smartphones. 1,349 effective price, while Vodafone has lowered the exact same to Rs. 999. BSNL gives consumers a 4G attribute phone at Rs. 97 recharge.
In reality, Jio has done something similar to what Airtel and Vodafone did in the recent past, and brought down the effective price of two Lyf-branded Android handsets; Lyf is possessed by Reliance Retail, a component of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. Under that offer, the effective price of this Rs. 4,699 Lyf C459came down to Rs. 2,392, while that of the Rs. 4,999 Lyf C451 has been brought down to Rs. 2,692.
Notably, instead of exploring another phone, Jio can just choose to bring down the prices of these handsets — or other Lyf phones — further by giving more substantial discounts, à la Vodafone and Airtel.