Home / Technology / News /  JioPhone Next final pricing, performance crucial for success: industry watchers

Reliance Jio has the opportunity to tap into a 300 million user base with its ultra-affordable 'JioPhone Next' smartphone but the final pricing and overall performance would be key in this segment, according to industry watchers.

Reliance Jio teamed up with tech titan Google to develop its made-for-India 'JioPhone Next' that is slated to be available from September 10. While the pricing is yet to be announced, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said JioPhone Next will be the most-affordable smartphone not just in India but globally.

CMR Head (Industry Intelligence Group) Prabhu Ram said India is a vibrant, mobile-first nation.

"While India's digital economy is already on the rise, there is a significant headroom for growth. Jio and Google are addressing the critical challenge of smartphone affordability for current feature phone users by providing them with a strong device value proposition to upgrade to," he said.

Ram pointed out that while doing so, the two companies are solving for the 3Vs — voice, vernacular and video — to enable and empower nascent first-time internet users across aspirational India.

Speaking at RIL's 44th annual general meeting, Ambani asserted that an ultra-affordable 4G smartphone is essential to make India '2G-mukt' (free of 2G). India still has nearly 300 million mobile users who are unable to escape from inefficient and exorbitant 2G services since most basic 4G smartphones remain unaffordable, he added.

Counterpoint Research Associate Director Tarun Pathak said pricing is going to be an important factor as the over 5,000 segment in India was just five per cent of the Indian market in pre-pandemic era.

"We believe that Reliance is going to target Jiophone smart feature phone users first (65 million). That is likely to be the target. Pricing is going to be the key as over 5,000 segment in India is just 5 per cent of the market in pre-pandemic era," he said.

Pathak noted that the phone would need to be optimised well as there have not seen many success stories in less than 5,000 segment, and not many players have been able to ace this segment.

"(But) the opportunity is there in the form of massive 320 million feature phone users... The challenge is that COVID-19 has impacted this target group the most. Jio needs to give a lot of push to position the benefits for the entry-level masses," he said.

techARC founder and Chief Analyst Faisal Kawoosa echoed similar views.

"It's very challenging to meet the expectations of users, even the ones wanting to upgrade from a feature phone to a smartphone at the optimum price point.

"So, we will have to wait to see the performance of the device to be able to see it's real success in the market," he Kawoosa.

India is among the biggest smartphone markets globally with devices under 10,000 accounting for a significant share. According to Counterpoint Research, India's smartphone shipments grew 23 per cent year-on-year to reach over 38 million units in the March 2021 quarter, the highest-ever first quarter shipments.

New product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as higher demand on account of work and study from home amid the pandemic have been strong drivers for the market in the past few quarters. The top-five players in the Indian market include Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo and Realme.

The feature phone market registered a 14 per cent y-o-y growth during the quarter driven by strong shipments of JioPhone under its new model and subsequent promotions, as per Counterpoint.

Cashify, a platform for sale and purchase of pre-owned devices, said the upcoming phone will definitely cause a stir in the market.

"We see a large set of consumers who prefer using phones in the price range of 5,000-7,000, even lower. Jio has already established itself as a hot favourite among its loyalists.

"This new offering from Jio and Google will encourage customers to switch to this device due to the trust value behind it," Cashify COO and co-founder Nakul Kumar said.

An optimised version of the Android OS has been developed especially for the 'JioPhone Next' smartphone. 'JioPhone Next' will also support the entire gamut of applications from both Google and Jio, as well as Android Play Store through which users will have access to the full universe of Android apps.

For users who might not be able to read content in their language, the phone will allow users to translate what's on their screen with a tap of a button, and even have it read back to them in their own language.

'Read Aloud' and 'Translate Now' are now operating system (OS)-wide features that will work with any text on users' phone screen, including web pages, apps, messages, and even photos.

The smartphone comes equipped with a fast, high-quality camera that will yield clearer photos at night and in low-light situations. Google has also partnered with Snap (parent company of photo sharing app Snapchat) to integrate India-specific Snapchat Lenses directly into the phone's camera.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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