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Reliance Jio could partner with Vivo to launch more Y1s like 'Jio exclusive' smartphones

India Today logo India Today 27-11-2020 Sushant Talwar
a screenshot of a cell phone

Since its entry into the telecom sector, Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio has emerged as a great disrupting force. Its strategy of indulging competitors in a cut-throat price war has seen a mass migration of users from other networks to Jio in the last few years.

The company has also launched low-cost JioPhones in the past as a way poaching more and more 2G users from operators such as Vodafone-Idea and Airtel. And now it appears Jio is ready to increase its efforts to do so by rolling out "Jio exclusive" smartphones in partnership with Chinese brand Vivo.

This is according to a report from ETTelecom which claims that the company is in talks with the Chinese phone maker to strike a partnership which will see it offering discounts, OTT subscriptions, shopping benefits and one-time screen replacement if the customer gets the handset locked with a Jio connection -- something we've already seen on the Vivo Y1s.

Interestingly, the report claims Jio is also in talks with local players like Lava, Karbonn and other Chinese brands for similar partnerships that will see it bringing smartphones priced around the Rs 8,000 mark. The report follows another report by the publication which had claimed that Jio had struck a partnership with China's iTel to launch 4G smartphones around the Rs 3,000-4,000 range. However, these phones are still to be launched in the market.

The ETTelecom report cites analysts who suggest this move could increase Jio's share of gross subscriber additions in the market. Speaking to the publication, Ashwinder Sethi, principal at Analysys Mason said: "The handset bundling and the related handset subsidies and other benefits is geared towards increasing Jio's share of gross adds to the market and, more importantly, retaining existing Jio 4G feature phone users whose contracts are coming up for expiry in the coming months."

While Jio already appears to be close to rolling out phones in exclusive partnership with manufacturers, Airtel too is believed to be in talks with smartphone makers like Lava and Karbonn to develop and sell low its own low-cost 4G smartphones. These devices too would be highly subsidised by the carrier in return for a lockin with them.

It would be interesting to see how such partnerships pan out in the future as India to date hasn't seen a successful carrier subsidy program. However, with Jio already appearing in advanced talks to roll-out something like this, the wait to know what would really happen to its plan may not be too long.

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