Reliance Jio's much rumored and highly anticipated 4G feature phone could debut within this month. Brokerage firm HSBC told a newspaper that Jio's feature phone could be priced for as low as Rs 500, thus disrupting the feature phone segment.
Analysts believe that the launch could happen at the company's annual general meeting on July 21. HSBC says Jio is subsidising the handset by as much as Rs 650 to Rs 975, bringing the retail price down to Rs 500. Earlier reports indicated that Jio is in talks with Chinese contract manufacturers for 4G feature phone priced under Rs 1,500.
Jio has already disrupted the Indian telecom segment with its aggressive tariff plan and access to unlimited voice and data service. Jio reportedly has 112.55 million subscribers at the end of April 2017, but its subscriber addition has slowed down in the past few months. The company added only 3.9 million subscribers in the month of April as opposed to 19.6 million subscribers added in October after its commercial launch in September last year. With subscriber addition slowing down since January 2017, Jio is looking at tapping into feature phone users to increase its base.
According to a Gartner report, the feature phone users are upgrading to phones with better connectivity and features. With its 4G feature phone, Jio is seen pushing not just its data services but also bringing more subscribers its suite of Jio apps. Jio has reportedly placed orders for 18-20 million units of its 4G VoLTE feature phone and shipments is expected to begin at the end of this month or early next month.
The company is also expected to announce new tariff plan as its Dhan Dhana Dhan offer announced on April 11 ends this month. It needs to be seen whether Jio creates the same wave of disruption in the feature phone segment like it did in the mobile broadband segment.