Reliance Jio, India's newest service provider, is planning to launch a 4G smartphone in collaboration with Google, according to media reports. The two companies are already said to be working on the development of a low-cost device aimed specifically at Indian consumers.
Press reports indicate the smartphone will work exclusively on Reliance Jio 's 4G network and be launched by the end of the year. Jio is also believed to be working with other device vendors, including Lava International Ltd. and Intex Technologies (India) Ltd. , on developing a portfolio of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) feature phones. These handsets will be aimed at consumers in rural communities and are likely to cost between 999 Indian rupees ($15.21) and INR2,500 ($38.08) per unit.
The high prices of 4G devices have undoubtedly held back the adoption of 4G technology in India. Jio has realized that it needs to foster a proper device ecosystem and drive costs down if 4G is to flourish in the years ahead. It was for this reason that it launched its own devices brand, LYF, with the intention of bringing out mass-market 4G devices. According to a report from market-research company IDC , LYF was the fifth-largest smartphone vendor in the Indian market in the third quarter of 2016.
The collaboration with Jio marks Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s second attempt to launch an affordable smartphone in India. Previously, under its Android One project, it worked with Indian brands such as Micromax Informatics Ltd. and Karbonn Mobiles , to launch a device priced at just INR6,500 ($99.04). But Android One failed to really catch on.
The partnership with Google will enable Jio to ensure that its apps are more tightly integrated with the Android platform. Google, meanwhile, should see benefits from growth in the number of mobile Internet users, many of which will be driven to use Google-based services.
— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading