Reliance Jio, Google working on low-cost 4G handset

Google Pixel XL

Reliance Jio and Google may be teaming up to launch an affordable phone that’ll only work on the former’s 4G network. Industry sources claim that the unnamed handset is going to be released before the end of 2017.

For Reliance Jio, the Google brand name would help boost its ambitions to sell cheap 4G-ready smartphones to a wider audience than it currently commands with its Lyf series of devices. The tie-up may also translate to Jio’s apps being more tightly integrated into Android, raising the level of performance considerably.

Greyhound Research CEO Sanchit Gogia thinks the Google phone would aid in data adoption, helping Reliance to render movies and music better over its network. The search giant might benefit from the partnership as well, getting access to a whole new segment of consumers, many of whom might be first-time internet users.

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The strategy sound similar to Google’s Android One project which saw mixed levels of success when it first arrived in India a couple of years ago. The initiative was basically a low-cost version of its Nexus line. The US-based brand would develop, design, market, and support the handsets, while local firms like Micromax and Karbonn manufactured the devices.

However, the plan suffered from a lack of differentiation between phones. Android One never took off the way Google hoped it would, which makes its apparent Jio joint venture interesting. If true, it provides a new way for the brand to push its services directly to consumers rather than through an OEM middleman.

Sources say Reliance Jio and Google are looking beyond smartphones to the former’s upcoming smart TV platform. The duo is supposedly working on the underlying software for the service which is predicted to come out later this year.