Reliance Jio, the Mukesh Ambani-led 4G only telecom service provider, could soon launch always connected laptops in India. The company has reportedly held talks with the San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm to launch ‘Always Connected PCs’ with built-in cellular connectivity.
At a December event in Hawaii last year, Qualcomm detailed plans for Always Connected PCs powered by its Snapdragon 835 mobile platform. The idea here is to offer a mobile chipset instead of a full stack processor from Intel or AMD that comes bundled with high-speed LTE modem for always-on and always-connected experience. For Always Connected PCs, Microsoft has even tweaked its Windows 10 operating system that offers same basic functionality but runs major applications in emulator mode.
Economic Times reports Qualcomm is working closely with Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail for a 4G feature phone and always connected PCs will strengthen their brand portfolio. “…we have talked to Jio. They could take the device and bundle it with data and content,” Miguel Nunes, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, told ET.
Qualcomm has already announced partnership with HP, Asus and Lenovo for the launch of “Always Connected PCs.” While the first set of devices powered by Snapdragon 835 have started hitting the US, these products are yet to arrive in emerging markets like India. Qualcomm says it now has support from 14 operators for release of such connected PCs including Verizon, AT&T and Sprint in the US and other major carriers in Germany, Italy, the UK, France and Australia.
Qualcomm’s pivot from smartphones to laptop comes amidst declining sales of computing devices. The company says there is value in this new segment especially for retailers and telecom operators. The ‘Always Connected PC’ is being pitched as an alternative to tablets like iPad since they offer battery life for days (and not hours) and yet retain the full functionality of Windows operating system.
Apart from its network operations, Reliance Jio continues to expand its device portfolio through its retail network. Reliance Retail sells MiFi dongles, LYF-branded smartphones and 4G-enabled feature phone. With always connected PCs, Reliance Jio stands to expand its service and increase its average revenue per user, which is already the highest among its peers.
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It needs to be seen whether Reliance Jio builds laptops on its own or contracts them to Chinese OEMs like it does for other devices. With workplaces encouraging employees to bring their own devices and changing scenario where people work from remote place, a connected PC stands to gain significant traction and its success depends on operators with vast network and connectivity solutions.