Google CEO Sundar Pichai has confirmed that the tech giant is working closely with Indian telecom operator Reliance Jio for an affordable smartphone. The two companies had got into a partnership last year and had announced an affordable smartphone. This came after Google picked up a 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 33,737 crore. While Pichai has confirmed that the project is underworks, he did not reveal the possible launch date or priing of the phone.
"We are focused on building an affordable phone we are committed to making progress on the project and we are working with them (Jio)," Pichai said in a virtual conference, reported PTI.
Google's investment in Jio Platforms was part of 'Google for India Digitisation Fund' that was announced last year. The tech giant had announced a total investment of Rs 75,000 crore (USD 10 billion) in India over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in the country.
"Google is also looking at new opportunities to deploy funds from its USD 10 billion India Digitisation Fund (IDF), and will make some announcements later this year," Pichai said on Thursday.
Google has tried to penetrate into the Indian market with its Pixel smartphones. Most Pixel smartphones have been remained well in the country but, haven't been able to lure masses, largely because of their price. The Chinese smartphone makers have offered similar specifications at a more affordable price. Google somewhat realised that customers in India are not willing to spend extra when affordable alternatives are available.
This is why it has skipped some recent Pixel smartphones in the country. Last year, Google only launched the Pixel 4a in India and it will be interesting to see what its plans are with the Pixel 6.
On the other hand, Jio has also flirted with the smartphone market in the past. It was selling Lyf smartphones in the country till a few years back which came with Jio SIM out-of-the-box and offered data at incredibly cheaper rates, at least for that time. However, these smartphones never became mainstream.
The telecom operator achieved greater success when it launched the Jio feature phone a few years ago. It will be hoping to take the much-needed jump with the phone designed in partnership with Google. Even Qualcomm has hinted that it can play a big role in the Jio-Google smartphone.
Both these companies are big. Yet, neither of them have been able to penetrate into the smartphone market, as one would hope. The upcoming affordable smartphone offers another opportunity for Google and Jio to make use of each other's' expertise and reach out to more users in India.
As mentioned before, Sundar Pichai did not divulge other details, including possible launch date and pricing. However, Reliance is known for making big announcements during its annual meet in August. The company used its AGM as the stage to make some big announcements like Jio Feature phone and JioFiber service.
Unless there is a delay because of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we should expect an announcement at this year's Reliance AGM in August.
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