India's feature phone market is still thriving, as evidenced by the launch of the $25 JioPhone late last year. The phone comes with 4G connectivity and access to Jio's digital content library, and also has Google Assistant baked in, a first for a feature phone.
It now looks like Jio is once again targeting the entry-level segment, this time partnering with MediaTek over an Android Go phone under the company's LYF series. Details are scarce, but what we do know is that the device will be powered by MediaTek's MT6739 SoC.
Android Go is envisaged as the platform to reinvigorate the entry-level segment, with the lightweight operating system optimized to run on devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM and under 8GB of internal memory. Android Go comes with its own set of lightweight apps, including Google Go, Assistant Go, Maps Go, Gmail Go, and the like, and the goal is to provide a decent user experience while using a fraction of the resources.
From TL Lee, head of MediaTek's wireless communications products:
India is growth intensive, a market of immense opportunities with its own set of aspirations and needs. We continue to intensify our technology collaboration in India, even beyond smartphones, and recognise its importance in the global marketplace.
Jio is bullish on Android Go smartphone, and is working with us and the ODM partners to bring the device to the market in coming months. They have really pushed us to deliver Android Go-based device as soon as possible.
With Android Go phones set to be positioned in the vicinity of ₹2,000 ($30), they'll be directly competing with feature phones. According to Malik, we'll see a lot of activity in this area over the coming months:
Android Go's potential target is around 137 million feature phone users. We expect 4-5 vendors to come up with their offering by March.
Indian homegrown vendor Micromax is set to launch the Android Go-based Bharat Go phone shortly, and HMD is also said to be working on a device dubbed the Nokia 1 running Android Go.
Qualcomm has also announced that it will partner with brands over the Android Go initiative, and with the first wave of devices slated to launch very soon, we should have more details in the coming weeks.