Reliance’s Jio Platforms has been on a funding spree over the past few months with some sizable investment coming from Facebook, Qualcomm, and other global names. Joining this extensive list is Google, which will pick a minority stake in India’s biggest telco to create custom software and hardware solutions for India’s growing appetite for smartphones, particularly in the lower-end segment.
At today’s investor meet, Reliance announced that Google and Jio are teaming up to make entry-level 4G smartphones after the latter’s 4G-enabled feature phone saw massive success in the region. A big chunk of India’s billion-plus population has so far stuck to 2G feature phones, and a cheap Android phone will likely be their first choice when they decide to transition out. That’s hundreds of millions of potential customers that Google and Jio want to be ready to absorb. Down the line, when 5G becomes a real thing, the duo may even come out with a 5G-enabled entry-level phone.
Everyone should have access to the internet. Proud to partner with @reliancejio to increase access for the hundreds of millions in India who don’t own a smartphone with our 1st investment of $4.5B from the #GoogleForIndia Digitization Fund.https://t.co/1fP8iBZQfm
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) July 15, 2020
Jio also plans to accept Google’s assistance in creating a custom Android-based operating system that presumably isn’t as resource-intensive as the standard Android version. Though Google already has the Android Go Edition program in place to address similar needs, for whatever reason that just doesn’t seem to have fit the bill for Jio. Company officials refrained from sharing any further detail about this new OS or any of the phones that could possibly be in the pipeline.
Of the $10 billion fund that Google announced for the Indian market last week, $4.5 billion will be invested in Jio Platforms for 7.7-percent ownership. In the last couple of months alone, the Reliance subsidiary has picked up over $20 billion, though most of it is still pending regulatory approval, including Google’s share.
In addition, Jio had some big announcements to make, like its readiness for 5G deployment using the locally developed solutions. It even unveiled its AR-enabled Jio Glass (pictured above), which could be used for mixed-reality applications and would be available sometime next year. Lastly, the JioTV+ app for the company’s media box has received a facelift to enable cross-app search and single sign-in for most streaming apps, including big names like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and Disney+ Hotstar. It has also added interactive features like content-related polls on live TV.