Reliance Jio’s Lyf phones have been selling in India for quite some months now, however, the company still needs to tap the rural and tier-III markets for its data services and mobile business. According to a report by Economic Times, Jio may soon launch a series of feature phones with 4G VoLTE support. The phones could be priced as low as Rs 1,000.
The report said that Jio may try to reach out to the consumers who are first-time data users in rural areas. “Jio wants to tap all the segments in the country and sees huge potential in the rural areas, which it now aims to tap with VoLTE feature phones,” said the report.
There will be two feature phones, if the report is to be believed, priced at around Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500. Reliance may launch these phones in the first quarter of 2017. Although these are feature phones, meaning there will be no touchscreen, they will be able to run 4G data and will be capable of accessing internet.
The cheapest 4G-enabled smartphone at present is sold at around Rs 3000, and a huge slice of the market is still based on feature phones. With the launch of such feature phones, Reliance Jio will be able to offer the affordability of a feature phone with 4G VoLTE technology along with free voice calls.
According to IDC’s Q3 report on Indian smartphone market, “The 4G smartphone shipments grew 24.8 per cent over previous quarter in CY Q3 2016. Rollout of Reliance Jio network has further increased the share of 4G enabled smartphones in India. 7 out of 10 smartphone shipped in Q3 2016 were 4G enabled and 9 out of 10 smartphone sold by eTailers were 4G.”
Reliance Jio holds fifth position in the Indian smartphone market with a total of 7 per cent, which is a 20.9 per cent growth over previous quarters. We expect these numbers to go up in the coming months, when Reliance Jio commercially launches its 4G services along with other new services.
The company is missing a significant portion of market with the lack of feature phones. According to IDC, about 40 million features phones were sold in the Q3 2016 “with a healthy 18.6 per cent quarter-over-quarter growth”.
While Reliance Jio’s free 4G services and unlimited calls have forced people to switch to 4G-enabled smartphones, if Jio is able to offer a feature phone that can support 4G data and other services offered we don’t have any reasons to doubt that Jio will once again disrupt the market in the coming months.