Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio on Thursday announced a deeper partnership with Google to launch a cheap 4G smartphone called JioPhone Next in Sept which could connect millions of Indian users to high-speed mobile data and a separate cloud tie-up with the US tech giant to boost the Indian telco’s 5G push.
The 'JioPhone Next' has been developed by Google and Jio for the Indian market, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries said at the company's annual general meeting on Thursday.
He did not mention a price but said it would be the most affordable "not just in India, but globally".
India is the world's second-biggest mobile market with about 530 million smartphone users, but more than 300 million people still use very basic phones for making voice calls.
"The smartphone is a testimony to a global technology giant and a national technology champion working together to make truly a breakthrough product that can be first introduced in India and then taken to the rest of the world," Ambani said.
Ambani announced last year that Jio and Google would partner to make an Android-based smartphone operating system.
Cloud tie-up for 5G
Google, which last year invested $4.5 billion in Jio's parent Jio Platforms, also said it would help India's biggest wireless carrier with tech solutions for its enterprise and consumer offerings as it plans to launch 5G services.
The tie-up lends Jio the expertise of a global tech giant as it expands digital services to small and medium businesses as well as hundreds of millions of individuals. And it gives Google access to the Reliance conglomerate’s massive scale ranging from oil to telecommunications and e-commerce.
As part of this partnership, Reliance will shift its core retail businesses to Google Cloud's infrastructure, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a message played at Reliance's meeting.
Ambani said he was confident that Jio would be the first company to launch 5G services in India.
Reliance Jio had disrupted India's telecom market in 2016 when it launched dirt-cheap data plans and free voice calls, forcing several competitors including Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani out of the business to emerge as India's biggest mobile telecom company with more than 425 million customers.