As Reliance Jio gears up to launch JioPhone Next in the festive season, the smartphone’s co-developer Google is pinning hopes on a huge demand from people looking to shift from feature phones. Alphabet Inc and Google CEO Sundar Pichai believes the new device will have a lot of impact in connecting and helping millions take advantage of a smartphone.
“People are looking for access and there’s definitely been a wave of them who have adopted smartphones (in India),” Pichai said during the earnings call after announcing robust quarterly results late on Tuesday.
“There is still demand to shift from feature phones to smartphones. JioPhone Next is like building a phone beyond the English-speaking community and going local, doing it in a way that many more people can take advantage of a smartphone,” he elaborated.
Billed as the world’s most affordable smartphone, the JioPhone Next will be assembled at Reliance Jio’s Neolync facility in Tirupati and Sriperumbudur. It is powered by Pragati OS that’s built on top of Android Go operating system and is tailor-made for the Indian audience. The smartphone features premium localized capabilities such as automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation, smart camera with augmented reality filters, and voice assistant among others. It is expected to be priced around Rs 3,499.
Pichai said that he views JioPhone Next as laying the foundation for the next wave of digital transformation.
“It’s a version of digital transformation. And I think over the 3-5 year time-frame, the Jio phone will end up having a lot of impact. But overall, India continues to be an exciting market for us. We see strength across the categories we are involved in. And you’ll continue to see us stay focused there,” Pichai noted.
Earlier Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani had said JioPhone Next 4G smartphone will enable vernacular speakers to connect with people speaking different regional languages, mainly to target around 30 crore 2G users in the country. He had said India still has nearly 30 crore mobile users who are unable to escape from inefficient and exorbitant 2G services since most basic 4G smartphones remain unaffordable.