A man uses mobile phones in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Mukesh Ambani’s ‘Free’ Handsets Bring Back Glory Days For Feature Phones

Feature phone sales in India outpaced smartphone sales during the January-March quarter thanks to India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani and his disruptive upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

The JioPhone, which can be bought for a mere Rs 1,500 refundable deposit, is driving mobile handset sales in India, according to Counterpoint Research. Sales rose 48 percent year-on-year “due to strong shipments of Reliance JioPhone, while the smartphone market remained flat”, it said in a media statement.

The demand for JioPhone continued through the first three months of 2018 as the company’s market share in feature phones “raced” to 36 percent from naught earlier, the mobile market research firm said. “This demand was catalysed by the introduction of a cheaper data plan for the JioPhone in January,” Tarun Pathak, associate director of Counterpoint said in the media statement.

Reliance Jio has captured more than a third of the total feature phone market – the highest ever in a single quarter, since what Nokia achieved at its peak.

That's helped Jio add more subscribers too. Of the 87 lakh users that the company added in March, up to 50 lakh were from JioPhone sales, UBS Global Research estimated. The momentum of user addition is also expected to continue over the next few months on the back of higher JioPhone sales, according to Morgan Stanley Research.

Also read: Reliance Jio Adds Highest Monthly Subscribers In A Year

Mukesh Ambani’s ‘Free’ Handsets Bring Back Glory Days For Feature Phones