With some reports on Monday suggesting Reliance Jio is currently looking to remove from its much-hyped Jio Phone, the business has said that it is still committed to this 4G feature phone that was declared 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 all the JioPhone and will soon announce the next JioPhone booking date.”
Media reports earlier on Monday claimed growth on Jio Phone is being halted 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 this HTML5-based Firefox OS.
But, Gadgets 360 has learned that Jio is working on bringing additional programs to the Jio Phone app store, with a concentration on the needs of rural customers. These include the traveling apps to book bus tickets, in addition to entertainment apps. As mentioned earlier, it is also in talks to bring Facebook and WhatsApp on its own platform. But as of today, the Jio Phone app store only feature the firm’s proprietary apps, for example JioMusic, JioCinema, and others.
The Jio Phone is aimed at the bottom end of the Indian mobile phone market, at customers who are yet to switch out of feature phones to smartphones. According to some estimates, the company originally aimed to sell 100-200 million units of their handset during the next few years. Its highlight, of course, is the accessibility to 4G Internet along with the zero ‘effective price’; in the time of purchase, though, they still will need to pay Rs. 1,500. Users can stream music and videos, browse the Web, and also mirror content playing on the phone onto a TV using a proprietary cable.
The delivery has been slow also, with consumers 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 just feature phones but also Android phones, thus lowering the entrance barrier to smartphones. Airtel has partnered with Karbonn and Celkon to offer Android phones at as low as Rs. 1,349 effective price, while Vodafone has decreased the exact same to Rs. 999. BSNL gives users a 4G attribute phone at Rs. 2,200, and unlimited Internet access with its Rs. 97 recharge.
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In fact, Jio has done something similar to what Airtel and Vodafone did in yesteryear, and brought down the effective price of two Lyf-branded Android handsets; Lyf is owned by Reliance Retail, a part of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. Under which offer, the effective price of the 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.
Especially, instead of exploring another phone, Jio can only opt to bring down the prices of those handsets — or other Lyf phones — farther by giving more substantial discounts, à la Vodafone and Airtel.