'Version of digital transformation': Sundar Pichai on JioPhone Next launch

The JioPhone Next — billed as the world's most affordable smartphone and expected for a Diwali launch — is jointly developed by Reliance Jio and Google

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai views the upcoming launch of JioPhone Next, co-developed with Reliance, as a "version of digital transformation" and will have a lot of impact in the country over a three-five-year time frame.

On 25 October, Reliance confirmed that JioPhone Next, one of the most anticipated 4G smartphones of 2021, would be arriving in India next week on Diwali.

Billed as the world's most affordable smartphone, the JioPhone Next features premium localised capabilities such as automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation, smart camera with augmented reality filters, and voice assistant among others. It is powered by Pragati OS that's built on top of Android Go operating system and is tailor-made for the Indian audience.

"People are looking for access and there's definitely been a wave of people who have adopted smartphones. So, we see the demand for people looking to shift from feature phones to smartphones" Pichai said during the company's earnings conference call on 26 October.

The JioPhone Next was first unveiled by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Google CEO Sundar Pichai at RIL's annual general meeting (AGM) on 24 June 2021. This was after Google and Jio Platforms had entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone in July last year. Google had also invested $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms, taking a 7.73 percent stake in the firm.

"What excites me about the upcoming partnership with Jio in building a phone is really investing beyond just English and getting languages and getting the local needs right for people and doing it in a way that many more people can take advantage of a smartphone" Pichai said during the earnings conference call.

He said that India continues to be an exciting market for them and will continue to stay focused on the region.

"I view it as laying the foundation. India, just like Asia Pacific continues to be an exciting market for us. We see strength across the categories we are involved in" Pichai said.

In July last year, Pichai had announced plans to invest $10 billion in India over the next five-seven years as part of India Digitisation fund, with a focus on areas crucial to the country's digitisation efforts. This includes the investment in Jio Platforms and startups such as Dailyhunt parent VerSe Innovation and InMobi's mobile content platform Glance.

During the earnings conference call, Google's chief business officer Philipp Schindler also mentioned about Google Pay's partnership with Bengaluru-based fintech firm Setu to help users open fixed deposit accounts directly from the app. He said about 150 million people across 40 countries are now using Google Pay to manage transactions and stay on top of their finances.

"We continue to be very focused on helping both merchants and financial institutions create more intuitive digital experiences and connect with our customers. We think there's much more that we can do for both consumers and our partners" Schindler said.

Disclaimer: Moneycontrol and Firstpost are part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.

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