The Reliance Jio challenge

Can India’s largest start-up manage millions of customer accounts and navigate the emerging business models of software and content? That’s the Rs1.5 trillion question


Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

It doesn’t require a great deal of analysis to predict that Reliance Jio’s launch will disrupt the telecom business. It is only to be expected that a company into which Rs.1.35 trillion has been invested (and an additional Rs.15,000 crore is being invested) will do so.

But it isn’t just the telecom companies that need to worry about the new Godzilla on the block. Jio will also disrupt the media and software businesses through ownership or aggregation, and delivery. That’s a classic information economy play of parent Reliance Industries Ltd’s famous complete backward- and forward-integration strategy. Chairman Mukesh Ambani translated that into the farm-to-fork strategy in retail (with mixed results, at least until now) and now, the pipe-to-play model in telecom.

But can India’s largest start-up manage hundreds of millions of customer accounts and navigate the emerging business models of software and content? That’s the Rs.1.5 trillion question.