Airtel, India’s biggest telecom service provider, has accepted Reliance Jio’s challenge related to cheap, all-inclusive 4G handsets. As per reports coming in, Airtel will launch their bundled 4G handsets, costing Rs 2500, just before Diwali.
This is clearly an attempt to sabotage Jio’s plan to disrupt 4G handset market, as they have already announced the launch of their 4G feature phones, costing effectively zero.
However, from the initial reports, it seems that Airtel has planned out the attack well, because they are ready to provide more features, albeit charging a bit more.
Who will win the ultimate telecom war?
Airtel’s Counter Attack on Jio: Rs 2500 4G Handsets
Reports are in that Airtel is all set to launch cheap 4G handsets, costing Rs 2500, which would be released just before Diwali.
Bundled with unlimited plans, voice minutes and other features, these low cost handsets has been positioned to directly combat Jio Phone’s aggressive pricing and features.
As per some unnamed officials, the handset offered by Airtel will have better features compared to Jio’s 4G feature phone. He said, “Airtel is talking to some handset manufacturers to bring in a smartphone around Rs 2,500, which will have a bigger screen, better camera and better battery performance than what a feature phone could offer..”
Another set of reports claim that advanced talks are on with some leading smartphone makers, who would be collaborating with Airtel for rolling out these cheap 4G handsets.
Lava and Karbonn are said to be those companies, but no confirmation has been announced.
Analysts are excited, because Airtel’s bundled 4G handset offer can directly entice those 500 million odd feature phone users in India, who would be now getting more than one option to select.
Tarun Pathak, associate director at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research said,
“If true, Airtel’s strategy has the potential to disrupt the market because at the moment, there isn’t a 4G smartphone with good specs at Rs 2,500,”
Airtel’s Handset Would Be Better Than Jio?
At this point of time, we cannot really predict that.
But yes, unlike Jio’s ‘subsidized’ handsets, which are effectively priced at Rs 0, Airtel is bundling freebies after collaborating with handset makers, and convincing them to charge less than what is the current market value of these handsets.
As per reports, Airtel is pitching it to leading smartphone makers as a ‘co-branding’ exercise.
Besides, Airtel’s handset would be Android based, thereby enabling an open eco-system of apps, games and Internet services, unlike Jio’s which would be a closed eco-system.
Faisal Kawoosa, senior analyst at Cybermedia Research said, “It (Airtel’s 4G device) could be a bit democratic because the VoLTE feature phones (Jio Phone) being launched are closed loop (with operator Jio), while the smartphone on Android leaves the choice open for users.”
But again, providing a good quality hardware, which supports 4G VoLTE, along with camera, apps for Rs 2500 can be a challenge for Airtel.