Google and Reliance Jio $87 Android Pragati OS JioPhone Next might now win the search giant its ‘Next Billion’ users?

Google Reliance Jio JioPhone Next Android Pragati OS Ultra Affordable Device Feature Phone
Is the $87 price low enough to win Feature Phone users? Pic credit: Reliance Jio

Google, Facebook, and other tech giants have long indicated they are already looking towards their “Next Billion Users”. However, the recently announced $87 ultra-affordable Android smartphone, JioPhone Next, might not be instrumental in achieving the goal for the search giant.

The JioPhone Next, with an optimized Android Pragati OS, and an ultra-affordable price tag of $87 (INR 6499) might seem good on paper. However, in the real world, the device is nowhere close to its competitors.

After Android One, Android Go, here comes JioPhone Next with Pragati OS:

India alone has more than 500 million smartphone users. However, there are almost 400 million users who are holding on to their Feature Phones.

Google’s Android smartphone OS commands 96 percent of the smartphone market. In other words, the search giant has already cornered the Indian smartphone market.

It is amply clear that the Indian smartphone market is still heavily inclined towards the affordable, and budget segment of smartphones. Needless to mention, there are no competitors for Google in these segments.

Simply put, Google can only go after the Feature Phone segment. There are no clear market leaders as feature phones need not have an OS, let alone apps or multimedia services.

It is no wonder then that Google has routinely experimented with the Android OS that would work with the ultra-affordable or budget range of Android devices.

Google first partnered with local hardware brands like Micromax, Lava, and Karbonn, to introduce the first wave of Android One devices. The program did not manage to garner much response. Some experts claim poor hardware for the time period was the reason for the underperformance.

Then Google teamed with Nokia and Xiaomi to launch a variety of devices with Android GO. The hardware was acceptable, but the Android version was quite lightweight. All the smartphones sported a price tag below $100.

Advancements and optimizations aren’t the deciding factors to gain new smartphone users:

Google clearly understood that Android One and Android GO aren’t going to win the company, new users. Hence, the search giant has now co-developed the Android Next line of smartphones.

This time, however, the company has partnered exclusively with Indian behemoth Reliance Jio. The device, JioPhone Next, is Jio’s third device, but first Android smartphone. The first two had KaiOS.

The JioPhone Next has a 5.45-inch 720p screen and features a Snapdragon 215 chipset, 2GB of RAM, 32GB storage, MicroSD slot, 4G with dual-SIM connectivity, 13MP camera, 8MP front camera, and a 3500mAh battery.

The specifications are decent for an entry-level Android smartphone. However, the price doesn’t seem to justify the $87 price tag. Around four years ago, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had reportedly stressed that smartphones need to cost $30 if the company wants to welcome the next wave of users willing to make the move to Android.

At $87, the JioPhone Next competes against smartphones from Xiaomi, Realme, and other Chinese smartphone makers. Needless to mention, for a few dollars extra, these devices offer a lot more value.

Interestingly, the device also competes with refurbished devices. This segment is huge in India.

Needless to mention, all these devices, irrespective of the brands, run Android OS. So, Google isn’t gaining many new users.

Hence, it clearly wants JioPhone Next to win the Feature Phone users. But these cost way less than $30, and users usually spend less than $2 per month on their subscriptions. It is not clear how Google and Reliance Jio will win over such users with the Android Pragati OS device.

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