Top network carrier Airtel has joined hands with Google to bring affordable and feature-rich Android Go edition smartphones to India, which might restrain Reliance Jio's astronomical growth.
With Reliance Jio's debut in September 2016, incumbent players have lost a significant chunk of their market share and JioPhone's entry in 2017 dealt a big blow to their revenues apparently forcing rivals to consolidate their footprint by going for mergers.
If things go as planned, British-major Vodafone will merge with Idea Cellular by the end of this year if not early.
However, reigning market leader Airtel took another, strategically better route by forming partnerships with mobile device manufacturers like Karbonn Mobile, Lava, Motorola, Celkon, HMD Global's Nokia, Lenovo, and Motorola with 'Mera Pehla smartphone' initiative.
This apparently placed the company in a better position against Reliance Jio as the latter offers a keypad-based JioPhone while Airtel affiliated devices are smartphones with better user experience that support all the apps on Google Play store including YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
Another notable aspect of the Airtel mobile is that it comes with the dual-SIM slot where consumers have the freedom to choose the network of their choice, whereas the JioPhone users have no other option other than Reliance Jio.
Now, Airtel is taking the battle with Reliance Jio to the next level by forging an alliance with global search engine giant Google to bring the 'Android Go' smartphones in India.
For the uninitiated, Google has optimized the Android Go OS specifically for budget phones with bare minimum hardware having 1GB RAM (or less) and it is very light in size but does not compromise in terms of performance.
Google has also improvised the preinstalled apps such as Files Go, Google Go, Google Assistant Go, Maps Go, and YouTube Go among others to consume up to 50 percent less space, making sure that low-end smartphone owners get extra space for music, apps, photos and other activities.
Furthermore, Airtel affiliated Android Go phones will come pre-loaded with compatible apps, including MyAirtel App, Airtel TV, and Wynk Music, to ensure a seamless online/app experience for users.
"This partnership is a major milestone for the 'Mera Pehla Smartphone' initiative. Android Go will provide a massive boost to our efforts to bring affordable smartphone options to the market and potentially enable hundreds of millions of feature phone users and unconnected people to get online. We are excited to collaborate with Google and our device partners to work towards this shared vision of bringing smartphones within the reach of more people," Vani Venkatesh, chief marketing officer, Bharti Airtel, said in a statement.
It remains to be seen how Reliance Jio will respond to Airtel's new strategy.