Ringing Bells and Freedom 251 is a saga that shows no sign of ending. After promising delivery on June 28, then June 30, July 6 and now finally on July 8, the company’s CEO Mohit Goel is now wishful that the government will dole out Rs 50,000 crore in order to create these ‘Freedom’ phones.
Interestingly Ringing Bells is hosting an event today where it will launch new phones and India’s cheapest LED TV (below Rs 10,000). It has also assured deliveries for Freedom 251 from tomorrow.
So what is really happening with this Freedom 251 business? Here’s what is known so far.
Not everyone will get a phone
Let’s be clear: Ringing Bells got over 7.5 crore orders and the company has no clue how to fulfill these. To put 7.5 crore in perspective, that’s 75 million; the kind of numbers that Samsung and Apple sell in an entire year.
Ringing Bells said it will start deliveries for 2 lakh handsets from June 30 initially, then mentioned 10,000 devices will be given to customers in 19 states, and has now brought it down to 5000 devices being delivered on day one.
Now Goel has told IANS: “The first batch of 5,000 ‘Freedom 251’ devices will finally be out for delivery from July 8 and the receiver will have to pay Rs 291 (including Rs 40 as delivery charge) to get the unit.”
2 lakh units every month? Nope
If you thought Ringing Bells will deliver 2 lakh units every month to complete all orders, just forget it.
The company’s GM Anmol Goel told IndianExpress.com: “We may deliver more units if we get help or we may not deliver at all in the upcoming months. We are only focusing on the giving away the devices now.” The statement though doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Ringing Bells’ weird maths
The story just keeps getting more bizarre each day. In an interview to IANS, Ringing Bells CEO Mohit Goel said he faced Rs 930 loss on each phone, which cost Rs 1180 and the parts were imported from Taiwan.
Then he claims he recovered “Rs 700-800 from app developers and revenue generated through advertisements on Freedom 251 website.”
Given the Freedom 251 website is no longer up and running, where these advertisements came from is a mystery. Also which app developers are tying with Ringing Bells is another unanswered question.
Goel expects to make a loss of Rs 180-270 per phone, and truly the maths is befuddling. Most industry groups point out: A Freedom 251 device costs minimum of Rs 2500 to make. So Goel’s claim that he is losing only Rs 180-170 per phone is astounding.
Government support needed
Goel and co have been insisting since Day One that Ringing Bells and Freedom 251 are all about Digital India and Make In India. While Make in India insists the phone has nothing Indian about it, Goel thinks he can still help Digital India, with just a little help from government.
He told IANS, “In order to digitally-empower every Indian, if I can get government support under the Digital India programme, I can ensure timely delivery of ‘Freedom 251’ phone to all citizens at the same price.”
Yes he has written to the Prime Minister’s Office as well, asking for a meeting and wants “government support” to make these phones. His demand: Just Rs 50,000 crore to ensure 750 million people in India get a phone at Rs 251.
But don’t worry, he doesn’t want to keep the Rs 50,000 crore. As far as he’s concerned, the government can keep the money and get the phone manufactured by another vendor.
“The government can make the phone — under our Freedom brand — from some other vendor. I have no objection to it. To make such phone for every Indian citizen, the government needs to allocate funds from its Digital India initiative,” he told IANS.
Cloud storage is the buzzword in the technology industry, so Goel and Ringing Bells are also floating a cloud theory.
He wants to launch “WhiteCloud” to generate revenue. “The aim is to make and provide at least 100 new apps online to ‘Freedom 251’ owners and charge them bare minimum — to the tune of Rs 1 to Rs 3 per app — to generate revenue,” he told IANS.
Ringing Bells might not have delivered the cheapest phone in the world, but hey they have plans to launch India’s cheapest LED. Goel insists they have 1 lakh pieces in stock to deliver to customers. Okay sure.
“These will be the cheapest television sets in India and will be available for less than Rs 10,000. Online registration for the TV sets will be open from July 25 with delivery to be made from August 1,” Goel said to IANS.
With IANS inputs