Will Datawind Be Able to Deliver Where Freedom 251 Couldn’t?

Makers of the Aakash tablet are now eyeing consumers who do not currently use internet on their phones.

Tech News
4 min read
Hindi Female

Phone manufacturers make big promises to offer devices that are affordable. From the Aakash tablet to the recent hoopla around Freedom 251 smartphone, India is always infatuated by price. Tata promised us a car for Rs 1 lakh, and we know how that turned out.

Datawind is back with its promise to offer a smartphone for Rs 999 in 2016. But if we have learnt anything from the past, these tall claims usually turn out to be PR stunts.


The Real Mobile Picture

Over 260 million users in India are still stuck with 2G connectivity. However, more than 400 million people are living their lives without a phone at all. 

Over 350 million users are on the Internet in India but truth be told, you’re looking at 80 million users out of these on broadband, while the rest are stuck on 2G. More than 400 million are yet to experience internet or even use a smartphone for that matter.
Suneet Singh Tuli, President and CEO, Datawind

These numbers are more than enough to prove the country’s attraction towards low-cost products. Datawind is not the only player in the game. Brands like Micromax and Lava have risen up the market ladder by gradually upping the ante with wider products in their line-up.

The biggest demand in the tablet market has been registered in the sub-Rs 5,000 bracket. According to a recent IDC report, Datawind is the leading brand in the segment. Its UbiSlate tablets (Aakash Tablet) has a 20 percent market share.

The likes of Samsung and Micromax’s tablet market share has taken a dip, because their focus has moved beyond this segment.

The guy who’s buying a Rs 2,000 Datawind tablet will never spend Rs 400 for internet service. 
Suneet Singh Tuli

The same case stands for mobiles, which is why there’s no harm in trying to offer something cheap. But the question is, can cost supersede quality?


Internet and Smartphone Go Hand in Hand

There’s no point in having a smartphone if you cannot avail of internet services. India is said to offer the lowest internet prices in the world and also the slowest internet speeds. Most experts suggest that instead of ranking the prices in dollars, we need to work in the quantum that is accepted here.

Internet packs like Rs 10 only available in India. The data disparity and its pricing have always been structured to suit the telecom operator’s business model. 
Tech Expert

India has never warmed up to the operator-bundled plans, but we have come across instances where telcos offer internet packs exclusive to their devices.

Datawind launched its Pocketsurfer smartphone for under Rs 3,000 with a one-year free internet plan. According to Tuli, the same model will now be available to users with phones that are less than half that price.

We will offer free internet plans to consumers with our upcoming smartphone, that will offer people deprived of the internet the chance to make the jump to smartphones.
Suneet Singh Tuli

Another Freedom 251 on the Cards?

When Ringing Bells announced the Freedom 251 for Rs 251, nobody really believed that a company that no one heard off could do what no one else had offered till then. But Datawind claims the affordable model is doable.

The company is not promising anything big with its phone, nor is it focussing on selling its phone to people who’ve already been using a feature phone for many years.

This phone will offer hardware, and an experience that will act as a stepping stone for users who are moving from a Rs 800 feature phone. If we can manage to offer them the internet with quick-time page loading, our work is half done. 
Suneet Singh Tuli, President & CEO, Datawind
We are targeting the 8 million consumers who are still using feature phones priced between Rs 800 and Rs 2,300. Offering them the device with free internet will ensure more users get exposed to it.  

The market dynamics might be against Datawind doing its business, but the company seems determined.


What Will You Get for Rs 999?

Don’t expect big things from the company. Truth be told, what they offer is nowhere near what the Freedom 251 offers.

  • 4-inch phone with 360 pixels resolution
  • Dual-core processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • 1.3-megapixel camera
  • 1500mAh battery

These specifications will not excite today’s smartphone user, but that’s not the demographic Datawind is targeting.

To put it simply, the best product you can create for the targeted price may not be good enough. The expectations of consumers at different levels varies depending upon their purchasing power.  
Suneet Singh Tuli, President & CEO, Datawind

However, he feels that in the next six months, a phone priced at Rs 1,500 could match the hardware of a Rs 7,000 phone sold last year.


Will it Find Takers?

Most experts suggest that offering a Rs 1,000 smartphone with the aforementioned hardware is doable. But when you’re targeting over 8 million consumers, it all comes down to economics and meeting the supply-demand hierarchy.

The company admits that the product will be lower in quality than what people have come to expect, so will they still find takers? And if they do, can they ensure that they do not run into major hiccups? We’ll have to wait for the product to come into being to see.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from tech-and-auto and tech-news

Topics:  Samsung   Micromax   Freedom 251 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More