Reliance Jio­Phone Might Revive the Dying Fea­ture Phone Market


Reliance Jio launched its 4G feature phone, dubbed the JioPhone, today at the 40th AGM meet. The device comes with a refundable security deposit of Rs 1,500 which will be returned after three years of purchase.

With the growth in popularity of smartphones, primarily due to easier affordability has given a kick to the decline of feature phones, especially in developed markets and urban markets of developing ones like India.

Feature phones have been left behind due to their connectivity via languishing 2G network speeds — leaving users asking for more.

But while the urban populace in countries like India have adapted to smartphones, the rural populace is still forced to use slow 2G connected feature phones due to financial constraints.

At Rs 1,500 worth of refundable security deposit to obtain the device, the JioPhone makes for a perfect offering for such users in the rural areas.

“JioPhone is a move to reach out to the next 100 million users. With an installed base of 400 million feature phones in India, the market is big enough for Jio to target feature phone users with disruptive offers and an effective price of Rs ‘zero’ for a device,” Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

Reliance Jio’s announcement can prove to be a major disruption in the mobile phone industry and can once again propel the popularity of 4G feature phones — even in urban areas as a secondary device.

“The feature phone segment is still very active in India and close to half a billion such handsets will be sold in the next five years. The replacement cycle of feature phones was normally four years till date but JioPhone will now shorten that cycle and you will expect lot of people upgrade to the new VOLTE-enabled JioPhone,” Pathak said.

Jio is charging this money as a security deposit to ‘avoid potential misuse’ of the device. The beta testing of the Reliance 4G Feature phone, being called the JioPhone, begins on August  15 and pre-booking for the device will start on August 24. The device will start shipping in September.

For Narinder Kumar, an analyst at Cybermedia Research, the “world’s cheapest feature phone” will certainly impact the current market of 2G handsets as well as the entry-level smartphones segment.

“Initially, JioPhone holds greater potential for feature phones moving end of life in the near future,” Kumar told IANS.

(With inputs from IANS)

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