Mumbai: Even before it launches its operations commercially, Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), has captured substantial market share through the sale of its LYF phone devices in six months.

According to a 17 June report by Cyber Media Research and Services Ltd, LYF was India’s third largest selling mobile phone brand in the March quarter with a 12.6% market share, behind Samsung and Lenovo.

The report said the first quarter of the calendar year saw 42 brands shipping smartphones, datacards and tablets with long term evolution (LTE) devices for 4G wireless communications support. Among these Samsung, Lenovo and LYF lead with 32%, 13.4% and 12.6% market share, respectively.

LYF phones are sold through the company’s Reliance Digital, Digital Express stores and the phone’s official website mylyf.com. The company currently has 3,245 stores, including 1,748 stores under Reliance Digital, Digital Express and Digital Express Mini brands.

RIL has also tied up with mobile retailers, including Poorvika Mobiles, Big C Mobile, Lot Mobiles and Sangeetha Mobiles, among others. LYF mobiles are also available on Flipkart and Amazon.

LYF phones come in four variants: Flame, Earth, Water and Wind, which are sold in a price range of 5,490 to 19,999. Reliance has so far launched 15 variants for its LYF phone devices. Till April, the company had sold 1.5 million devices.

“Possibly the reason behind this (market share) is that from the very beginning whatever product we were designing or bringing out, we had consumer at the center of it. We were the first guys who committed our entire range of products for voice over long term evolution (VoLTE)," said Sunil Dutt, president, devices, Reliance Jio. Dutt was speaking at the launch of Jio’s Earth 2 phone in Mumbai on Monday. Earth 2 has been priced at 19,999.

Dutt added that Reliance Retail’s large distribution network has been advantageous for LYF devices.

“We have the largest and best distribution network in the country. We have more than 1,200 distribution partners so far as the device business is concerned. They are reaching out to almost 115,000 retail points of sales, all selling smartphones. We have backed it up with 1,000 service centres and at these centres we have 3,000 service engineers. We ensure that any LYF device, if it’s not available in a particular store, reaches the consumer within 24 hours," added Dutt.

RIL works with five original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) which assemble LYF phones. Dutt refused to divulge the names of the OEMs.

“For a new brand it usually takes time to establish distribution network. However, LYF already has a wide distribution network which gives it an edge over most others in the category," said Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst for telecom at CMR, while explaining that already over 750,000, units which come with a free SIM card offering its 4G Jio network, have been sold out.

In the price band within which LYF phone devices retail, there are a plethora of brands available, including Lava, Karbonn, Samsung, HTC, Lenovo and LeEco. LeEco, which also launched in the first quarter of the year, managed a 2.4% market share in the March quarter. Unlike LYF, LeEco’s distribution is limited as it is available through an online partnership with Flipkart but does not have a presence across brick-and-mortar retail stores.

The Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate has invested close to 1.5 trillion in its telecom venture, Ambani had said in March, describing Reliance Jio as the world’s largest start-up.

So far, RIL has launched only smartphones and smart television sets under the brand. The television sets will work with Jio’s soon-to-be-launched 4G network and content services. Going forward RIL also plans to launch tablets, dongles, cameras and electronic wearables under the LYF brand.

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