Imagine going to a mobile store and seeing a 4G enabled mobile for just Rs.2,000. It would probably leave us confused, wondering if this is a gimmick. One might even think the phone to be a cheap “China” copy. But if things go according to plan, one could soon own a 4G phone without shelling out big bucks, for a number of domestic manufacturers have shown interest in making such handsets. The ambitious “Make in India” project seems to have spurred local companies, with Intex and Karbonn taking it upon themselves to meet the government’s request of developing modern phones at a low cost.
The NITI Aayog had called on companies to manufacture handsets which had the latest technology, but ones which wouldn’t leave a hole in our wallets. With demonetisation pushing the need for digital transactions, having these phones in the market would be a huge boost to e-transactions, serving a dual purpose for the government.
Companies to go the Freedom 251 way?
The mention of low-cost phones takes us back to Freedom 251, a company which promised to deliver smartphones for just Rs.251. Now, while this turned out to be a big flop show, it remains to be seen whether local brands can actually step up and churn out affordable, 4G phones. A close look at the market shows that a 4G phone currently costs upwards of Rs.4,000, with companies expected to slash the cost in half, while remaining profitable. Focus will be on the quality as well, for one typically associates anything cheap with substandard products, and after the debacle of Freedom 251 one is bound to be apprehensive about such moves.
India’s love for “Smartphones”
We live in a world where our eyes our glued to our phones on most occasions. While this might make us believe that we are a nation of “Smartphone addicts”, the contrary is actually true. According to reports, under 20% of our population owns a smartphone, and while the numbers might seem huge (close to 250 million users), it is a small fraction when compared to our overall population. The Indian smartphone market is ranked #2 globally, with companies selling millions of pieces each year.
A low-cost, affordable and power packed smartphone could help the country be the world leader, propelling sales and pushing the nation towards digitisation.
4G phones, 2G network?
While the move must be lauded, connectivity issues are a concern. With most of the country still using 2G, 4G seems to be a far-fetched dream. With around 5 million 4G enabled handsets being used currently, there seems to be a huge market for them, but with network providers struggling to provide even 3G connectivity it might be a while before our dreams of super-fast internet on our phones is realised. Experts are of the opinion that the country will have around 90 million 4G subscribers by 2018, but given the current pace of things it might be years before India enters the 4G realm.