Reliance had disrupted telecom with its ultra-cheap Jio plans, and had quickly become the number one telecom player in the country. It’s now looking to do an encore, but in the world of laptops.
Reliance Jio will soon launch a laptop priced at just Rs. 15,000, Reuters reports. This will be one of the cheapest laptops on offer in India. The laptop will be called JioBook, and will be available to customers including schools and government institutes from this month, while a consumer launch is anticipated within the next three months. “This will be as big as JioPhone,” one of the sources told Reuters.
The JioBook will be embedded with a 4G sim card, allowing for telecom and data connectivity. It will run on the JioOS operating system, and will have access to some Microsoft apps. The laptop will use Qualcomm chips. The JioBook will be produced locally by contract manufacturer Flex, and Jio plans to sell “hundreds of thousands” of units by March next year.
It makes sense for Reliance to enter the laptop market. Reliance is already the country’s biggest telecom operator, and also produces the country’s best-selling phone under $100 in the JioPhone. Whiles phones have now become ubiquitous, there’s a whole new segment of laptop users emerging — students from smaller cities and villages, who might need laptops to attend online classes, or small business owners from towns who might need a laptop for work. This segment can be targeted by Jio with its ultra-cheap notebook, and thanks to Jio’s distribution heft, which extends to the remotest parts of the country, can find an audience for itself. Reliance also counts Google as an investor, and can tie up with the company for providing apps and services on the JioBook.
But it might not be straightforward for Jio to immediately capture the market. The JioBook comes loaded with some Microsoft apps, but will not run on the Windows operating system, which can put off some users. Also, companies like Acer and Lenovo also have their own budget laptops, which will compete directly with the JioBook.
Reliance, though, has a history of disrupting entire industries with its low-priced products. It had disrupted telecom by offering Jio plans for essentially free for three months, and is now the biggest telecom player in the country. Jio also launched the JioPhone, which is now the best-selling sub Rs. 8000 phone in India. Reliance is now planning a similarly big-bang entry into the laptop market. And if Reliance’s laptop foray goes anything like its previous moves, it might end up not only disrupting the laptops space, but help in making laptops a lot more ubiquitous in small-town India.