DataWind plans to launch 'world's cheapest smartphone'
Mobile phone and tablet maker DataWind is teaming up with Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications (RCom) to launch the world's most affordable smartphone -- priced at Rs 999 -- by the end of 2015. The smartphone will have a Linux-based operating system and will be bundled with RCom's service offering. It is expected to hit the stores on December 28, the birth anniversary of Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani.
"Our target is to bring a smartphone under Rs 1,000. The new smartphone will be a Linux variant and consumers can get 12 months free internet browsing," Suneet Singh Tuli, chief executive officer of Canada-based DataWind, told ET.
A smartphone at such a price will be compelling proposition for consumers as they will also get free internet access for a year along with Facebook, WhatsApp and email services, Tuli said, adding that the company is willing to lose a bit of money on the hardware.
"Our big focus is on network services, apps and content. Hardware today is a customer acquisition tool. Once people start using it, we can make money through service offerings," the top executive said. DataWind's products are designed to primarily offer internet connectivity options based on 2G mobile-cellular infrastructure.
Tuli said such a low-cost device has been made possible by the sliding prices of processors and weakening memory prices. DataWind is currently in advanced talks with Chinese and Taiwanese chipmakers.
"We want to replace feature phones with low-cost smartphones and hope to shrink the feature phone market base to 5-10% from the existing 60-70% in the next one to two years," Tuli said. A spokesperson for RCom said DataWind is a partner and its offerings are available on the telco's platform. "RCom can't comment on a specific device," the spokesperson said.