Google and India’s Jio platforms announce low-budget JioPhone Next Android smartphone – TechCrunch


Jio Platforms, run by India’s richest man (Mukesh Ambani), and Google on Thursday unveiled the JioPhone Next, an affordable Android smartphone, as India’s leading telecom operator and US giant make new efforts to expand their reach into the world’s second largest internet market operator.

The Indian company, which secured a $ 4.5 billion investment from Google (and an additional $ 15.5 billion from Facebook and others) last year and has shared plans to work on smartphones at low prices. price, said the JioPhone Next aims to help around 300 million users in India who are still on 2G network, upgrade their gadget to access faster networks.

The phone, which is “powered by a hugely optimized Android mobile operating system”, will first launch in India on September 10 ahead of the holiday season in the country, and will eventually be available outside of India. India, said Mukesh Ambani, president of Reliance. Industries, at its annual general meeting on Thursday.

The JioPhone Next will be an “ultra-affordable 4G smartphone,” Ambani said, although he did not disclose the handset’s price or hardware specifications.

In a virtual appearance at Reliance’s AGM, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has also entered into a 5G cloud partnership with Jio Platforms. “It will help more than a billion Indians connect to a faster and better internet, support businesses in their digital transformation and help Jio create new services in sectors such as healthcare, education. and more, laying the groundwork for India’s next phase of digitization, ”said the chief executive of Google, which last year pledged $ 10 billion in India.

As part of the 5G cloud partnership, Google is also winning a major customer from Google Cloud to Reliance, Pichai said.

“They will be able to take advantage of Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning, e-commerce and demand forecasting offerings. Leveraging the reliability and performance of Google Cloud will allow these businesses to grow as needed to meet customer demand, ”he added.

Ambani unveils the JioPhone Next at Reliance’s annual general meeting on Thursday. Image credits: Jio platforms

The JioPhone Next will come with a range of features including Read Aloud and Translate Now, which will work with any text on the phone screen, including web pages, apps, messages, and even photos. .

It also has a “fast, high-quality camera” that will support HDR, and the JioPhone Next will be protected by the latest versions of Android and the latest security updates, Google said, although ‘he does not share the precise duration of this coverage. (Smartphone vendors typically offer security and support for new Android software for about two years after launch.)

“We have worked closely with the Jio team on engineering and product development on useful voice features that allow these users to consume content and navigate the phone in their own language, to offer a excellent experience with the camera and get the latest Android features and security. updates, ”Google said in a statement.

Even though most smartphones shipped to India cost $ 150 or less, customers looking for a smartphone under $ 100 have little choice. And that choice has narrowed in recent years.

Research firm Counterpoint told TechCrunch that smartphones under $ 100 made up only 12% of India’s smartphone market, up from 18% in 2019 and 24% in 2018. Smartphones under $ 50 only made up 0. , 3% of the total market in 2020, down against 4.3% in 2018.

Smartphone manufacturers are aware of this white space in the market, but have found it extremely difficult to meet the demand. Some, including Jio Platforms, have previously explored a range of multifunction phones to reach people in small towns and villages in India. Jio Platforms’ KaiOS-powered working phone called JioPhone had racked up 100 million customers by the end of February this year.

In a recent report to clients, UBS analysts said that after factoring in the recent price spike for the memory component, any smartphone priced at $ 50 or less is likely to sell for cost.

“While this decision by Jio accelerates the migration from 2G to 4G, we assessed how interesting this space would be for other smartphone makers, especially key players like Xiaomi. Xiaomi, the unitary smartphone market leader in India, is unlikely to follow suit with a $ 50 smartphone, in our opinion, ”they wrote in the report, obtained by TechCrunch.

Google has also already made several efforts – a $ 100 Android One smartphone program in 2014 and a resource-intensive Android Go operating system in 2017 – to expand Android’s reach. The company has also backed KaiOS, which powers popular multifunction phones.

The JioPhone Next is an “important step in our Android mission for India, and it is the first in a long series that our Android product and engineering teams will undertake in India,” Google said in a statement. “We are also actively developing our engineering teams in India, as we continue to seek ways to meet the unique needs of smartphone users in India. “


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