Reliance Jio really wants everyone to have a Jio SIM. And their latest effort to achieve this will involve selling feature phones priced as low as ₹1,000.
According to a report in the Economic Times, Reliance is planning to launch a 4G VoLTE ready phone very soon. The feature phone -- i.e. a phone that can access the Internet and store and play music but lacks the advanced functionality of a smartphone -- will have have integrated voice and video calling over the IP-based network along with free digital content. The phone will run on Android and will have a keyboard and a front facing camera.
Reliance already sells smartphones under the LYF brand at a starting price of ₹3,499, that come bundled with a Jio SIM. The feature phone is meant to entice users in smaller towns and rural areas to the Jio network.
Even though smartphones sales are galloping in India, feature phones still form a large chunk of phone shipments. According to a report by the American market research firm, International Data Corporation (IDC), of a total of 72.3 million phones shipped in the third quarter to India, 39.9 million units were feature phones.
"If Jio launches VoLTE feature phones at ₹1,000, it can potentially shake up the market because the target audience in that segment may prefer to choose phones with free calling inbuilt," Navkendar Singh, a senior research manager with IDC told ET.
Jio is looking to partner with Indian device makers such as Lava and some Chinese phone makers as well. This could be a boost to Lava as it is losing ground in the Indian market. Lava chairman, Hari Om Rai, has hinted at a partnership with Jio in an interview with ET.