A titan is always formidable in its environment, and an alliance between two titans makes each of them stronger. Reliance Industries’ Jio and Alphabet’s Google are two such titans, and they have joined forces to bring forth a brand-new smartphone and connect 1.3 billion Indians to the opportunities of the internet.
JioPhone Next, Jio’s latest smartphone, developed in collaboration with Google, will roll out from September 10, on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, and is set to run an optimized version of Android. The announcement came during Reliance Industries’ 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, as both Google and Jio are set to change India’s next wave of technological innovation.
The much-anticipated smartphone will be equipped with a voice assistant, augmented reality (AR) technology, and a good camera. It is set to be the “most affordable smartphone globally,” in the words of Mukesh Ambani, and will offer access to Google Play Store, automatic read-aloud of screen text, and language translation.
Speaking at the Reliance AGM, Ambani said, “India still has nearly 300 million mobile users who are unable to escape from inefficient and exorbitant 2G services… because even a basic 4G smartphone remains unaffordable for these users. Last year… Sundar and I had talked about Google and Jio co-developing a next-generation, feature-rich, but extremely affordable smartphone.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the phone is designed for users who will be going online for the first time, and will support the latest Android updates. The price of the phone has not been revealed.
“I know that with greater access to smartphones and improved connectivity, there’s no limit to what India’s people can do. We look forward to getting technology into the hands of more people, and exploring what more we can achieve together in the years ahead,” Pichai said, after the JioPhone Next was announced. He added that it would open up new possibilities for millions of new users.
Coming to the partnership between the powerhouses, Jio will be shifting the core applications of its retail business to Google Cloud infrastructure. Jio will continue to work on devices that support 5G, and once it is produced on a large scale, the company plans to provide it to telecom operators in other countries as well.
“It’ll help more than a billion Indians connect to a faster and better internet, support businesses in their digital transformation and help Jio’s new services in sectors like health, education and more—laying a foundation for the next phase of India’s digitalization,” said Pichai.
5G is set to revolutionize the internet market in India. According to estimates, it will represent around 26% of mobile subscriptions in India by the end of 2026, which comes at about 33 million subscriptions. It is hardly a surprise that it has attracted the attention of companies like Google and Reliance Industries’ Jio, both of which are leaders in the market. It has been but a few years since Jio burst into the scene with free internet and cheap calls, but it has already cemented itself at the top. JioFiber, present in over 100 cities, currently has over 3 million users and is the largest fixed broadband fiber internet provider in the country.
This partnership will benefit both Jio and Google – while Jio will be able to utilize Google’s expertise as it expands digital services to small and medium businesses and millions of individual customers, Google will have access to Reliance’s scale of operations.