Mumbai: India’s most valuable company is in talks with domestic assemblers to make a version of its Jio phone that would run on Google’s Android and cost about 4,000 rupees. The inexpensive phones will be marketed with low-cost wireless plans from Reliance Jio. Reliance Industries Ltd. has asked local suppliers to increase production capacity in India so they can make as many as 200 million smartphones over the next two years.
Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani is aiming to remake the country’s smartphone industry much like he did in wireless services, where his aggressive prices and simple plans quickly made him the dominant force. The billionaire is also aligning himself with the Indian government’s plans to build more domestic manufacturing, a possible boost for local assemblers like Dixon Technologies India, Lava International and Karbonn Mobiles.
Reliance is betting that its upcoming version of a $50 handset should be enough to go wide and big. Reliance’s target of selling 150 million to 200 million phones over two years would represent a massive boost for local factories. India assembled an estimated 165 million smartphones in the year ended March, and about an equal number of basic feature phones, according to Mohindroo’s association. About a fifth of the smartphones cost less than 7,000 rupees, or about $100.