Reliance Jio has been a game changer in the Indian telecom sector. The company not only brought high-speed 4G internet access to the masses, but is also offering a range of LYF-branded VoLTE-based smartphones at destructive pricing, starting as low as Rs 2,990. Now, if reports are to be believed, the telecom operator could further disrupt the market by launching a VoLTE-enabled feature phone for under Rs 1,500. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAIAlso Read - Airtel launches new Rs 456 prepaid plan: Check data, validity, call and other benefits
Yes, today s smartphones are powerful enough and as much capable as entry-level laptops. However, there are still a lot of people, especially in the rural areas, that still haven t made a switch to smartphones. In fact, a lot of these people are not comfortable with touchscreen devices and also don t feel the need of buying a smartphone as they just use phones to be in touch with the world. A feature phone gives them that simplicity without having to make an expensive purchase in a smartphone. Also Read - Jio Freedom Plans 2021: Jio launches 5 new prepaid plans with no daily data limit - check details
In just four months since its launch on September 5, Reliance Jio has managed to hit a milestone of 50 million subscribers. But that isn t enough as the company is now aiming to climb another mountain and race past 100 million mark by March 2017. To do so, Reliance Jio now has its sights on the feature phone market, reports claim. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio beats Vodafone, Airtel in 4G data speeds: TRAI
According to analysts, the upcoming 4G VoLTE-based feature phones from Reliance Jio could be priced between Rs 999 and Rs 1,500. If VoLTE feature phones come into the market, then there won t be a driving force pushing for the upgrade to smartphones; rather it will be an upgrade from feature phones to VoLTE feature phones. It will be a challenging time for the smartphone market, which could see flat growth in 2017, Faizal Kawoosa, principal analyst at Cybermedia Research told ET. ALSO READ: Mukesh Ambani announces Reliance Jio Happy New Year Offer, here s everything you need to know
Talking about features, these handsets are likely to feature front and rear facing cameras and could come bundled with Reliance Jio apps such as Live TV, JioChat and video-on-demand. There company may also include its digital wallet, Jio Money, in the feature phones to encourage cashless payments, but clearly the Reliance Jio seems to be banking on VoLTE HD voice calling support and video content as the Unique Selling Point (USP) of these feature phones. Also, the free unlimited voice and video calling, unlimited SMS and unlimited high-speed 4G access bundled with the feature phones is likely to be a key for their success. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio added 19.6 million subscribers in October 2016, TRAI data reveals
WithJio coming up with VoLTE feature phones, analysts are projecting that the smartphone market growth may take a small dip this year. The report also states that due to effects of demonetization, the first quarter of 2017 could see a 40 percent year-on-year decline, with recovery coming in the later part of the year. ALSO READ: 85% of Reliance Jio users to continue as paid customers after expiry of free offers: Survey
Now, while IDC expects the market to grow in lower double digits, from an estimate of 8 percent growth in 2016 compared to last year, Counterpoint, expects the market to grow 23 percent in 2017, which is the same as it estimated for 2016. There is no word on when these feature phones are likely to be launched, but it will be interesting to see if Reliance Jio can once again manage to disrupt the telecom space.
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