22 July 2020
At 43rd Annual General Meeting, Reliance Jio announced a deal signed with Google where the latter will invest $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms. This investment is a part of Google For India Digitization Fund announced earlier this week. The fund is aimed at boosting India's digital growth and helping as many Indians smartphones and reliable internet access.
One of the more interesting parts of the agreement is that both Reliance Jio and Google will work together to develop an entry-level smartphone for Indians. The details of this phone are currently under wraps but it will run a tweaked Android OS and Play Store. Both of these will have certain optimizations to deliver a smooth performance.
Sameer Samant, VP of Product Management for Android and Google Play at Google said,
“The time to increase our commitment to India’s significantly in collaboration with local companies and this partnership with Jio for us is really the first step of this. We want to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones—together with the apps and services in the Play Store—are within reach for many more Indians across the country. And we believe the pace of Indian innovation means that the experiences we create for India can ultimately be expanded to the rest of the world."
Jio said they will work on the phone from the ground. The goal is to make smartphone experience accessible to all those Indians who have not used any smartphone yet. Both players are hoping that with their own smartphone, they will be able to bring those untapped users online and thus to various apps and ecosystems.
Even though many important details are still missing, the whole idea seems similar to the Android Go initiative. It is not a secret that Android Go failed to live up to the expectations despite various promotional efforts and OEM partnerships from Google. The newly-announced collaboration with Jio appears to be Google another effort at making Android smartphones usable even on a tight budget.