The Pixel may cost you a pretty penny but Google is proving it can service a number of different markets and demographics by way of a new partnership with Jio, the self-described “largest 4G network in India.” The company recently claimed its 100 millionth subscriber and it will be working alongside Google to produce an affordable 4G-enabled phone exclusively for the network. According to a report from The Hindu, the phone will hit the Indian market before the end of 2017.
Google has experimented with entering India before, having previously provided free internet at railway stations throughout the nation, a service that is now used by 5 million customers every month. That said, the Silicon Valley tech giant has had less luck on the hardware side, with CEO Sundar Pichai noting that entry-level smartphones need to be as cheap as $30 to appeal to buyers.
With a Jio partnership, however, Google may have tapped into a mutually beneficial relationship. “Such a smartphone will help Jio increase data adoption — helping it render movies and music better over its network. It will also improve the overall quality of service delivered on the Jio network,” Sanchit Gogia, CEO at Greyhound Research, told The Hindu. “For Google, this would mean access to a large number of new users who would be connecting to the internet for the first time. It may also help the company assess its low-cost handset strategy.”
Neither Jio nor Google commented on reports of such a smartphone. The Hindu reports that “industry sources” have noted that the two companies have been in cahoots for quite some time, even collaborating on software for Jio’s smart TV services, which are also slated to launch later in 2017.
Hopefully, Google’s new venture with Jio will fare better than its ill-fated Android One project. “Android One had too many OEM partners, with each phone from every brand looking exactly the same, leaving no distinction for the vendor,” said Jayanth Kolla, founder and partner at Convergence Catalyst in an interview with The Hindu. “Moreover, at the same time, Chinese players like Xiaomi launched their phones at similar price with a lot more features, essentially killing the idea of Android One completely.”