Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) has resumed the sale of its 4G feature phone, thereby starting the second round of feature phone versus smart phone battle in the telecom industry where all operators are targeting the 500 million customers who do not have access to smartphones.
Having completed the delivery of some six million 4G featurephones, the Mukesh Ambani run telco will now first cater to the roughly 10 million additional customers who had shown interest in buying the phone but could not pick it up since the pre booking window was closed after the demand far exceeded the target of making available five million phones a week. The first set of pre-booking started on August 24 and the window was closed on August 26.
“Of the many who are interested, about 6-7 million will ultimately buy the phone,” a person aware of the matter said.
According to sources, this Sunday onwards messages with a link attached have been sent those who had shown interest. On clicking the link, the customer will receive a code which he has to show at the nearest designated outlet to get his JioPhone. Jio did not immediately respond to ET’s emailed queries.
The JioPhone is up against incumbents who have struck pacts with handset makers in providing 4G smartphones in the same price range. Bharti Airtel’s pact is with home-bred phone maker-Karbonn and the 4G smartphones from the Airtel’s stables will be available at an effective price of under Rs2,000, subject to minimum monthly recharges. Vodafone has tied up Micromax to bring its 4G smartphone at Rs 999 for its customers thereby taking on competition.
The mass-market feature phone that is being offered for free effectively — the company takes a three year interest-free refundable deposit of Rs 1,500 — is key to Jio’s bid to quickly scale up its around 136 million plus user base by targeting the 500-million feature phone customers.
The telco had also rolled out refund policies wherein the customer who returns his Jiophone in first year gets back no refund; if he returns between 12-24 months, he gets Rs 500 back and on returning between 24-36 months, gets a refund of Rs 1000. Only on completion of stipulated 3 years will the customer get the complete refund of Rs 1500.
The phone is being distributed through Jio retailers, multi-brand device retailers, and the network of Reliance Digital stores.
With voice free for life, a JioPhone user will get the benefit of unlimited SMS service and half a GB of data a day for Rs 153 a month, which is about one-thirtieth the price of data in the market, and access to various Jio apps.