Reliance JioPhone, the much-anticipated 4G VoLTE feature phone from Reliance Jio, is offering special registrations for businesses. But what is not clear is how and why a business would use a feature phone, even if it’s a smart one.
One of the biggest indicators of India’s digital push has been how enterprises have started using smartphones for a wide range of uses from entering delivery logs to POS machines with credit card reader add-ons. But these are all smartphones, maybe not the really expensive ones. For instance, a Swiggy or an Amazon have already given smartphones to all their deliver executives and there is no way any of these companies will downgrade to a smart feature phone from a phablet with better specifications, and more importantly a 5-inch screen. For them, there is nothing this new phone can offer.
On the flip side, if you walk into a small phone recharge booth, you still see feature phones being used for adding talk time to phones using UMTS and SMS based systems. JioPhone could start being used for these non-app based services. Then grocery shops, restaurants and other small business across the country use feature phones or landlines to accept orders. Since there is no calling cost on the JioPhone business could use this to replace more expensive landline services — so more bad news for BSNL and Airtel.
If they are opening up for business, you can rest assured that Reliance Jio will be adding apps on the JioPhone that add real value to small businesses. One of these could be JioMoney which already has ambitions to take on rivals like PayTM. With a good app that offers users a decent experience in the low-specced JioPhone, Reliance could look at cornering a lot of the cashless transactions market by actually taking it to the bottom rung of the segment where a lack of access to smartphone had created stumbling blocks for penetration.
But till these become clear Reliance Jio seems to be hedging itself by offering the JioPhone to businesses. With more clarity on what are the benefits for business users, Jio could actually tap into the business users who till now would have had only smartphone based options on strategies. Till then, however, the JioPhone clearly seems to be a product for individuals and not enterprise.