NEW DELHI: Jio Platforms and Google will jointly develop an Android-based smartphone system to take mobility to the last Indian, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said on Wednesday at the company’s 43rd annual general meeting (AGM). The two giants will together work on an entry-level 4G smartphone and could even explore a 5G device for the Indian market, the world's six richest billionnaire said.
The partnership between the two giants comes on top of today’s announcement that the search engine will take 7.7% stake in the RIL subsidiary for ₹33,737 crore.
Google’s investment, besides Facebook’s 9.9% stake in Jio, means that the rivals from Silicon Valley will be investors for the same company, vying for user data. Google is the 13th investor in Jio, a list, that besides the Silicon Valley rivals, also includes the who’s who of the world’s tech and private equity giants like Intel, Qualcomm, KKR, TPG and Mubadala.
“There are many feature phone users who are itching to upgrade to a conventional smartphone if only it was somehow more affordable," said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Jio. “We believe we can design an entry level 4G, or even a 5G smartphone, for a fraction of its current cost," he added.
Android is the world’s most widely used operating system, powering more than 90% of the world’s mobile smartphones. A partnership between the world’s largest search engine and a platform that already boasts of 388 million users could prove to be hugely disruptive and far reaching for India.
“We are confident that we can accelerate the national mission of putting a smart device in the hands of every Indian," Ambani said. The JioPhone was amongst the first 4G feature phones in the world, and Ambani said it has reached 100 million users within three years of its launch.
Ambani said Jio Platforms has developed a complete home-grown 5G solution and that the company would be able to launch the services once the spectrum is available.
“Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This will enable us to launch a completely home-growth 5G solution," he said in his address to the company’s shareholders. He said Jio Platforms would connect half a billion users, 50 million homes with fiber and 1 billion smart sensors in three years.
Ambani’s announcement is significant as it gives the hope that India would be able to have its own 5G technology and not rely on Chinese equipment or those of European companies. China leads in 5G technology and there have been concerns over the security and safety of data users end up sharing with various online platforms, all the more grave worries given 5G is a cloud technology and the data could be stored on servers outside India.
5G is the next generation mobile services technology that the world is shifting, enabling that would enable internet of Things and Machine to Machine communication. The government is likely to auction 5G spectrum next year.