How JioPhone 4G Rebooted India’s Feature Phone Market
Reliance JioPhone entered the feature phone market and conquered it in its first attempt. Or so claims a report from Counterpoint Research, which states that Reliance Jio’s innovative 4G VoLTE feature phone has managed to meet expectations among both buyers and industry players, alike.
According to Counterpoint, JioPhone has managed to upstage traditional feature phone powerhouses like Samsung and Micromax over the past quarter.
According to the Counterpoint report JioPhone enjoys a market share of over 26 percent, while Samsung and Micromax stand at 15 and 9 percent respectively.
Analysts at the research firm claim that low costs and affordable data plans project an upward trend for the feature phone segment.
In a statement, Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, writes: “We expect the 4G feature phone segment will be a 200-million-unit opportunity by volume, over the next five years as the hundreds of millions of current feature phone users in India are likely to upgrade to VoLTE handsets. The positioning of JioPhone as a smartphone effectively as a “Free” phone also worked for the company”.
Having said that, Pathak and team say they expect JioPhone numbers for the first quarter of 2018 to take a hit, after the company had to wait to replenish its inventory. “While Jiophone saw healthy sell-in during 4Q, we believe the operator exited the quarter with some inventory, which could affect its share in coming quarters”.
It’s worth noting that the numbers reported merely reflect the shipment of devices, and not how many have actually been sold over the period. Delivery of the “almost free” phones began in September 2017.
But considering that Jio added over 6 million users, as per data from TRAI, it wouldn’t be surprising to see sales figures on the higher side.
It is clear that the rising demand for JioPhone has catapulted it to the highest-ever quarterly growth of the feature phone segment of over 55 percent, while the demand for smartphones seems to have stagnated. And with more brands entering the fray, this segment is sure to grow further in the coming years.
What Works for JioPhone: The Affordable 4G Package
Everyone expected JioPhone to hit the ground running, but the latest numbers reported suggest Reliance Jio may have underestimated the lure of a device that costs less than Rs 2,000.
Add to that, a data plan worth Rs 153 that offers users over 500 MB data every day. This might not sound like a lot, but it appears to be a hit with the product’s target audience.
Reliance Jio has played its cards well, mostly aided by its never-ending pool of funds. Rivals like Airtel and Vodafone have tried to keep up, but in doing so, they aren’t leaving the bean counters in a happy mood.
While Micromax has already upped the ante in the 4G feature phone segment (by partnering with telcos like Vodafone), it’s important to have giants like Samsung enter this segment. Otherwise, Jio will continue to rake in the numbers, especially if it starts diversifying its product portfolio in the coming months.
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