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India’s Reliance Jio to introduce US$183 laptop: sources – Taipei Times

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd will soon launch a laptop priced at just 15,000 rupees (US$183) — one of the cheapest on offer in India, aiming to replicate the success of its low-cost phone, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd is known for disrupting businesses with cut-throat price offerings. Jio, its telecoms unit, has been credited with upending the world’s No. 2 mobile market with cheap 4G data plans and free voice services in 2016. Last year, it followed that up with its 4G JioPhone that costs US$81.

The laptop, to be called JioBook and which is to be embedded with a 4G SIM card, should be available to customers such as schools and government institutes from this month, while a consumer launch is anticipated within the next three months, the sources said, adding that a 5G-enabled version is set to follow.

Photo: Reuters

“This will be as big as JioPhone,” one of the sources said.

The sources declined to be identified as the launch plans have not been made public.

The JioPhone has been India’s top-selling smartphone priced under US$100, accounting for a fifth of that market segment over the past three quarters, according to Counterpoint Research.

The segment accounts for 9 percent of the country’s smartphone sales.

JioBook is to run the JioOS operating system, the sources said, adding that some of Microsoft Corp’s apps are also to be made available, they said, adding that Qualcomm Inc chips based on technology from Arm Ltd are to be used.

The laptop is expected to compete with a limited number of offerings in that price range from Acer Inc (宏碁), Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) and Indian firm Lava International Ltd.

However, it could face some resistance in a country where laptops running Microsoft Windows dominate.

“Challenges for the adoption will be user awareness… Also non-Windows [operating system] is a letdown too,” Counterpoint analyst Tarun Pathak said.

Currently, HP Inc and Dell Technologies Inc dominate laptop sales in India — a market of 14 million unit sales annually, which could expand another 15 percent with the addition of JioBook, Pathak estimates.

The JioBook is to be produced locally by contract manufacturer Flex Ltd with Jio aiming to sell “hundreds of thousands” of units by March, one of the sources said.

Jio, which is also pitching the laptop as an alternative to tablets for out-of-office corporate employees, raised around US$22 billion from global investors such as KKR & Co Inc and Silver Lake Management LLC in 2020.

Jio is India’s biggest telecom carrier, with more than 420 million customers.

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