Has ‘Freedom 251’ Gone In Cold Storage?
After a hype and a lot of media publicity, it seems that all is not well at the end of makers of “Freedom 251”, dubbed as world’s cheapest smartphone. Crippled with huge financial losses, makers of Freedom 251 have now knocked the door of the government to support their loss-making venture.
In a letter written to the Prime Minister’s Office dated June 28 asking for a meeting with Narendra Modi, Ringing Bells reportedly said, “We have brought ‘Freedom 251′ which we offer on ‘Cash on Delivery’ terms but we have a gap between the BOM (Bill of Materials) and the Selling Price. We, therefore, humble request government support to actualize the objective to cascade the availability and usage of smartphones all through the far reaches of our great nation”.
Ringing Bells, a Noida-based company, formally launched the final, commercial version of Freedom 251 at an event on Thursday. Mohit Goel, Director, Ringing Bells, also announced that the first batch of 5,000 Freedom 251 units will begin shipping from Friday.
According to Mohit Goel, he initially faced Rs 930 loss on each handset that cost him Rs 1180 and for which parts were imported from Taiwan. “I recovered Rs 700-800 from app developers and revenue generated through advertisements on Freedom 251 website. After selling the device for Rs 251 (cash on delivery), the total loss per handset is expected to be in the range of Rs 180-270,” IANS report published in Economic Times, quoted Goel as saying.
Goel claims that the government is willing to dole out Rs 50,000 crore, he can ensure that 750 million of India’s population would become part of digital India by owning a smartphone at Rs 251. Goel says that the government need not give his company the money but can get it manufactured by another vendor.
“The government can make the phone — under our Freedom brand — from some other vendor. I have no objection to it. To make such phone for every Indian citizen, the government needs to allocate funds from its Digital India initiative,” he said.
To generate more revenue, Goel plans to go to iCloud (cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple) and begin a software called “WhiteCloud”. “The aim is to make and provide at least 100 new apps online to ‘Freedom 251′ owners and charge them bare minimum — to the tune of Rs 1 to Rs 3 per app — to generate revenue,” he said.
Ever since its February launch, Freedom 251 has been the buzz word of the tech world and has attracted criticism from consumers and media for overbooking as well as potentially over-promising features. The company had in mid-February this year planned to deliver 25 lakh handsets before June 30. However, it received over seven crore registrations before its payment gateway crashed within three days.
The 3G device has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory and supports external memory cards of up to 32GB. The company has offered an 8MP primary camera with flash, a 3.2MP front camera and a 1,800 mAh battery. It runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop). The phone would be available in two colours — black and white. The device displays the Indian Tricolour when you switch it on. The company says that it will incorporate all the basic Google apps in the handset.