Aakash tablet maker Datawind today launched three handsets priced in range of Rs 1,999-Rs 5,499 with a free data plan under a tie-up with RCom. The new range of smartphones are powered with free unlimited Internet browsing for a year on Reliance Communications (RCoM) network.
“We knew that affordability was a big barrier, that people who earn less than 10,000 rupees a month, would not be able to afford expensive devices. But you also need to be able to connect the masses. The revolution becomes complete with the delivery of free mobile internet.” Datawind President and CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said.
“The United Nations declared that internet access is a basic human right, but a billion Indians don’t have access to the internet. We want to resolve that. We want to deliver that basic right, without grants or subsidies, creating a business model that’s commercially viable and scalable.” he added.
The free data plan does not include audio/video streaming or local downloads, but includes access to email and social networking sites. The phones use Datawind’s proprietary web delivery platform, which the company claims accelerates delivery of web content by a factor of 10 to 30.
The PocketSurfer 2G4 is a 3.5-inch, dual SIM, EDGE network compatible smartphone priced at Rs 1,999, while PocketSurfer 3G4 is a 4-inch, dual SIM, dual camera, 3G network compatible smartphone, priced at Rs 2,999.
The 5-inch PocketSurfer 3G5 smartphone, priced at Rs 5,499, has been upgraded to include a year of free web browsing. All the phones are powered by a 1 GHz Cortex A7 processor. The PocketSurfer 3G4 and 3G5 run Android 4.4.2 KitKat, while the PocketSurfer 2G4 runs on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich.
"The feature phone market is about 150 million unit a year. So, if we can convert even 3 per cent of this, which is around 45-50 lakh units, it would be okay. The target that we have set is to sell 50 lakh units in next 12 months and are targeting tier II and III cities," Tulli said.
By the end of this month, the handsets will be available at 3,600 retail points and by next quarter, the company will double the number of retail outlets, he added.
As per recent industry reports, over 1.3 crore feature phones are purchased in India each month at price points below Rs 3,000.
The tablet-maker sells nearly 50,000 tablets (UBI Slate) in a month.
In a commitment to 'Make in India' campaign, Tuli said: "We are pledging to ship 90 per cent of our manufacturing to India within 90 days."
The firm is in discussions with contract manufacturers in India. At present, the company manufactures its devices in China, he added.
Datawind hopes to generate around 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in next one year in India, Tuli said.
The company has chosen tele-shopping networks and physical retail to sell the products, as Tuli feels such networks cover 80 per cent of India, while e-commerce covers just around 3 per cent.
With this launch, Datawind is targetting tier II and III cities of India.
The products will be available on Naaptol's TV, print and online shopping platforms starting today and from March 24, they will be available at Sangeetha Mobiles, Spice Hotspot Retail and other key modern trade and retail partners.
(With Agency Inputs)