More reports on: Reliance Industries, Telecom

'Effectively free' JioPhone goes on sale, firm braces for big rush

24 August 2017

Reliance Jio will launch pre-bookings of the JioPhone from 5.30 pm today, with an initial deposit of Rs500 apiece.

Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani had announced JioPhone, dubbed "India ka smartphone", at the company's 40th annual general meet on 21 July. Taking into account all the freebies thrown into the scheme, the effective price of the phone was said to be zero (See: Jio launches 'effectively free' 4G phone; data starts at Rs24).

Consumers will be able to book the 4G feature phone from either online or offline channels. Reliance is bracing for a rush of bookings, and according to an Economic Times report, it expects an initial demand-supply mismatch.

The company is training hundreds of sales people, its own and those from large format retail chains such as The Mobile Store and Sangeetha Mobiles, for educating consumers on booking the JioPhone.

''Our sales people will begin taking prebookings of the JioPhone for Rs500 and will begin giving the phones when they arrive in September for an additional Rs1,000,'' Subhash Chandra, the managing director of Sangeetha Mobiles, told ET.

Reliance Industries plans to gradually ramp up supply and aims to eventually have 5 million of the JioPhone available on retail channels every week. The mass market 4G phone is being offered on a three year, interest-free refundable deposit of Rs1,500, and is a key to Jio's bid to quickly scale up its nearly 125 million user base.

Jio has been messaging its customers about the JioPhone and how to do the pre-booking. Retail chains on their own have also begun informing customers about the availability of the device.

The phone will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis through Jio retailers, multi-brand device retailers and the network of Reliance Digital stores.

According to Reliance Digital store executives, if the JioPhone is pre-booked through the Reliance Industries retail unit, it should be collected from the specific Reliance store whose code would be texted to the customer.

Some retailers told ET Reliance was ensuring that the initial stock would go its own Reliance Digital stores and other retailers would get stocks later on.

Retailers will have to upgrade their Jio point-of-sale machines with a new software which will support issuing of the pre-booking vouchers and payment through BHIM, Jio Money, Paytm and net banking. Each retailer would be able to issue only 40 vouchers in the first lot. The phones will be imported initially, but the company plans to make them in India by the year-end.

So will consumers who have signed on to "Registered Interest" be preferred? No, according to India Today - the "Register Interest" is just fancy terminology. Jio started registering consumer interest both online and offline a couple of days ago. Some media reports confused this process with pre-booking. But the "Register Interest" process was just for the company to check the demand for JioPhone and has nothing to do with pre-registration.

People who have registered their interest for JioPhone will not be preferred. But, only advantage these consumers will have is that they will get posted about the stock availability, and all the details about JioPhone via message or email ID that they provided while registering their interest. Jio has now stopped the 'registering interest'.

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