The rise of the Smartphone: Freedom 251
Smartphones have greatly expanded their user base in recent times, and nowadays it is considered to be an essential tool for many. Freedom 251 Smartphone provide a wide range of utilities, and in addition to basic communications services, can be used to surf the internet and access apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Skype, just as a user would ordinarily do with a PC.
The Ringing Bells announcement
Normally, smartphones cost quite a bit, even though their price has been decreasing a lot in recent times. Thus, it came as a huge surprise when Noida-based Ringing Bells announced the launch of a smartphone costing only Rs.251,without any Government subsidy.
Named Freedom 251, it is a full-fledged usable smartphone, even though some may claim that its price tag is too good for it to be one.
Nevertheless, some questions are being asked. Initially, it was being thought whether this programme was a Government initiative, given the very low price tag. However, the Government has admitted that it is not involved in this project in any way.
The price factor
Smartphones normally cost atleast Rs.3-5000. So who is bearing the cost of the subsidy? According to Ringing Bells, the company is bearing the subsidy cost itself, and plans to make it a mass product which would insulate it from economies of scale.
Ringing Bells president Ashok Chadha believes that Freedom 251 will still be a profitable venture. This is because Freedom 251 is likely to be bought in large numbers by people who have traditionally been outside the pale of the smartphone revolution.
What competitors are thinking
Other Smartphone manufacturers, who have also made a name for bringing out low-cost devices, are seeking to learn from the Freedom 251 example.
Among them is Sunit Singh Tuli, whose Datawind company was one of the first to bring out smart devices, having brought out a $35 Aakash tablet for the Indian government. Tuli’s cheapest device, however, was a 3G one rated at Rs.1,999, whereas Freedom 251 is 8 times as cheap.