Ringing Bell is trying to disrupt the smartphone market with an absurdly low-priced handset. Will it work?
As part of ‘Make in India’, a small start-up from Noida, Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd, has launched its Freedom 251, a smartphone at just for Rs251. The handset can be purchased from the company’s website and is expected to be delivered by June 2016. The absurdly low price would attract huge attention resulting in bumper sales for the five-month-old company; but will it last? Freedom 251, the smartphone, comes with a four-inch qHD screen, a 3.2 megapixel camera, 3G and is powered by 1.3Ghz quad core processor with 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory that can be expanded up to 32GB via memory card. The device runs on Android 5.1 and has some pre-installed apps like Women Safety, Swachh Bharat, Fisherman, Farmer, Medical, WhatsApp, Facebook. It has a battery of 1450mAh. In short, this is a basic smartphone at a ridiculously low price.
As of now, Ringing Bell has only launched four handsets only one of which is a smartphone, namely Smart 101. The rest are basic, or feature, phones. It sells all its mobile phones from its website. Smart 101 comes with five-inch qHD IPS display, 4G, 1.3GHz quad core processor and 1GB RAM (like Freedom 251), 8MP camera and 2800mAh battery. It is sold for Rs2,999. According to the company, it can provide talk-time of 10 hours on 3G and eight hours on 4G. In short, you will need to carry your mobile charger with you most of the time. I mentioned this just to highlight the battery capacity of Freedom 251. The lowest priced handset has a battery of just 1,450mAh and comes with several battery-guzzling apps pre-installed. So, if the user is using the handset only for calls, it may last for about six-eight hours. But if the user is using data connection and the apps, like WhatsApp or Facebook, the battery may not even last for four hours. This may be a big issue, especially in rural areas, where access to electric power supply points (for battery charging) is limited.
The Indian consumer prefers value-for-money deals. This means that irrespective of the price factor, whether low or high, Indian buyers choose the product that offers maximum value for money. While we can understand that lowest price does not mean the best of features, it should provide minimum features at least.
Also, the price point, at which Freedom 251 is being launched, is something very disruptive and may even be deceptive, for some. On the website, one can buy a maximum of 99 handsets at Rs251 each, excluding Rs40 as shipment cost per device. The money has to be paid in advance and Ringing Bell says the handset will be delivered in four months.
What several of us would find hard to believe is the price of Rs251 for a mobile phone. Even a basic feature phone, from reputed brands, costs over Rs700. How can anyone sell a smartphone for such a low price? In fact, even the battery or a handset from some known brands costs more. But, this may be part of Ringing Bell’s marketing strategy to gain entry into the consumer’s mind.
Remember, Reliance Infocomm’s offers during its launch phase? At that time, Reliance Infocomm offered handsets with monthly payments, instead of people paying huge sums upfront for buying it. This strategy helped the company to gain rapid entry into the mobile market. However, it was the Reliance group with deep pockets. The same cannot hold for a five-month-old company, whose promoters Mohit Kumar Goel, Sushma Devi and Rajesh Kumar hail from western Uttar Pradesh with a family background in agricultural commodity business.
Hope Ringing Bell would remain afloat and sustain its market to keep Freedom 251 alive for a long time.