RCom To Brings World’s Cheapest Smartphone for Rs. 999 in Partnership With Datawind
Remember the time, over a decade ago, when Reliance started offering cellular services – they had come up with Rs. 500 mobile handset. That move on-boarded hundreds of thousands of users across the country into mobile age. Looks like Reliance Communication is planning on doing an encore.
Mobile and tablet maker Datawind (Aakash Tablet fame) is partnering with Reliance Communication to launch world’s most affordable Smartphone price at Rs. 999 (just over USD 15). This smartphone is expected to launch by end of this year, December 28th to be precise on occasion of Birth Anniversary of Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani.
The smartphone will have Linux based operating system and will come bundled with RCom’s service offering. Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Canada-based DataWind, told ET, “Our target is to bring a smartphone under Rs 1,000. The new smartphone will be a Linux variant and consumers can get 12 months free Internet browsing,”
If you are wondering how can a smartphone come that cheap – Tuli said that they are willing to lose money on the hardware and will make up for it, by focusing on network services, apps and content.
The 2G based handset will have all the basic smartphone features, and will allow users to use Facebook, WhatsApp, Browsing and Email services. What’s more, buyers of this handset will get 12 months of free internet browsing.
While no further details on Hardware are forthcoming, it is clear that the handset will have minimum basic hardware required to run. Also, there are no further details on which Linux Mobile OS will the handset have. There have been various forks of Linux that can run on Mobile hardware including Ubuntu, GNU/Linux, Firefox OS among others.
Will it be a Success?
When Reliance first came up with mobile phones costing Rs. 500 (in partnership with Samsung & LG), India had less than 50 million mobile users. Now, the scenario is completely different. We now have over 900 million Indians mobile subscribers. However, feature phones still account for over 60 percent of those mobile users.
With launch of Rs. 999 smartphone coupled with free internet, it becomes affordable to literally everyone – and that’s the customer base that this handset seems to target. If marketed properly, this ultra-cheap smartphone can be a huge hit in rural areas and go a long way in helping digital inclusion of rural Indians.
Given that India still has over 500 million feature phone users, the potential market for this handset is huge. However, we will need to wait for more details – No one wants to see a repeat of Aakaash project!