New Delhi: To create an affordable yet powerful smartphone ecosystem for the masses in the country, Reliance Jio Platforms and Google on Wednesday announced to launch an entry-level Android smartphone soon.
Jio Platforms and Google have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop the entry-level affordable smartphone with optimisations to the Android operating system and the Play Store.
"I am excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don't currently own a smartphone while improving the mobile experience for all," said Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
"Together, we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones," Pichai said in a statement.
Reliance Jio launched a feature phone called JioPhone in 2017 that currently has an installed base of 20 per cent among the country's feature phone users.
"Google has empowered millions of Indians to access helpful information and, like Jio, is a force for change and innovation. Together, we hope to play a strong facilitative role in the transformative journey of building a new, Digital India," said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.
In a mega investment announcement, Google announced to invest Rs 33,737 crore ($4.5 billion) in Jio Platforms for an equity stake of 7.73 per cent. This is the first investment from the $10 billion 'Google For India Digitisation Fund' announced earlier this week, which aims to accelerate India's digital economy over the next five to seven years through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.
According to Google, the majority of people in India still don't have access to the Internet, and fewer still own a smartphone.
Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research, told IANS that Jio has the potential to undercut its rivals in pricing as we have seen before.
"Google's partnership will give it more flexibility to offer stable hardware and software experience. Individually, both Jio with initial 4G smartphone launches and Google with Android One programme did their best in the past to capture entry-level smartphone user base but didn't succeed," Pathak explained.
This partnership aims to target the entry-level smartphone segment (less that Rs 10,000) which sells anywhere close to 60 million smartphones annually in India.
"However, we see this happening once 5G networks are live," said Pathak.
Google said it wants to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones together with the apps and services in the Play Store - are within reach for many more Indians across the country.
"We believe the pace of Indian innovation means that the experiences we create for India can ultimately be expanded to the rest of the world," said Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and VP, Google India.
Google opened its first Indian campuses in Bengaluru and Hyderabad in 2004.
"Since then, we've made India central to our Next Billion Users initiative-designed to ensure the internet is useful for people coming online for the first time. We've improved our apps and services so they're relevant in more Indian languages and created offline versions for those facing network constraints," added Sameer Samat, VP, Product Management at Google.