Reliance Deja Vu: The Return Of The ‘Monsoon Hungama’ Offer
You know what they say about history repeating itself. Well, so do telecom projects.
Reliance Jio, the ambitious second telecommunications venture of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd., announced the launch of the JioPhone. At the company’s 40th annual general meeting of shareholders, an event produced at a scale that rivalled rock concerts, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance, launched a smartphone that he said was “effectively free”.
Yes, the Jio phone is priced at zero. But it’s not available at that. Customers have to pay a Rs 1,500 security deposit that is refundable after three years upon return of the phone. The phone will be available with a telecom service plan that ranges from Rs 25 for two days to Rs 153 per month with free voice calling and unlimited data.
Ambani announced this to cheers in an auditorium full of young shareholders. Little wonder they couldn’t recall his first act.
In 2003, soon after the launch of Reliance’s first telecom venture Reliance Infocomm, the company launched a Monsoon Hungama Offer.
It offered a mobile phone for Rs 501 upfront and Rs 200 per month for three years. Along with with free talk time worth Rs 100. At the time, Reliance had sourced phones in bulk from Korean manufacturers.
The similarity doesn’t stop there. Both times Ambani has stayed away from the popular GSM technology. The first time he relied on CDMA and this time on LTE.
Other features of Reliance Infocomm also find themselves in Reliance Jio, even if in new avatars that make concessions for the passage of time and technology.
- Infocomm: First to offer incoming free.
- Jio: First to offer all voice calling free.
- Infocomm: Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer Club.
- Jio: Jio Prime.
Second Time Lucky?
14 years ago, Ambani told shareholders he wanted to usher in a digital revolution in India via Reliance Infocomm.
In 2012, he expressed a similar ambition when apprising shareholders of the Jio project.
Ambani’s address to shareholders in 2003, the year after the Infocomm launch, boasted of the “world’s fastest consumer acquisition”. In 2017, the year after the Jio test launch, he said it’s been the “fastest adoption of any technology service, anywhere in the world”.
In 2003, he said, about the R-World services, that “the usage of data is higher than even that of the developed economies”. In 2017, he pointed out that after the Jio launch “India has overtaken USA and China in mobile data usage”.
And finally, to circle back to where this story started, in 2003 Ambani claimed “Reliance Infocomm is the first organisation in the world to offer entry-level phones with rich data features”.
Today he said, “Jio is going to reinvent the conventional feature phone. With a revolutionary device, an unmatched Indian innovation, Made in India, by young Indians and for all Indians”.