Ringing Bells, which launched the Rs 251 Freedom 251 smartphone in February, has now launched India’s cheapest (31.5-inch ) LED TV simply called Freedom at Rs 9,900, along with six new phones. The new devices are launched, even as Freedom 251 — the world’s cheapest smartphone if you go by its price — is yet to be delivered to millions of people who have booked it. Ringing Bells says it deliveries will start from today, which is July 8 with 5,000 units being delivered on Day 1.
The first set of deliveries is indeed on a lucky draw basis as promised by Ringing Bells’ Director Mohit Goel. “We want Freedom 251 to reach every state in the country,” he said at the event, insisting the company will deliver 2 lakh units of the Freedom 251 smartphone in the first phase.
While Freedom 251 appears to be an entirely imported device, Goel insists it is a ‘Made in India’ device. At today’s media event, Goel insisted most of the Freedom 251’s parts are made in India and claims the company has plans to open a manufacturing plant.
“We have more than 200 distributors in the country. The assembling is in India, the packaging is in India and the logistics are in India. Our ultimate vision is to set up a manufacturing plant in India,” says Ringing Bells president Ashok Chadha.
On being asked how the company plans to recover cost price on Freedom 251, Chadha said, “Our bill of material cost remain between Rs 1,250 – 1,400 for Freedom 251, and our selling price is Rs 251. Obviously there’s a gap. We are trying to do our innovative e-commerce, through pre-loaded apps and through advertising to fill that gap. And all the subventions from that, we give back to the community.” This is an argument that Ringing Bells has given earlier as well.
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The cheap LED TV and six other phones were not the only highlight of the today’s event. Goel created a stir when he announced that Ringing Bells will give away 95 per cent profits to charity. What is unclear is how the company plans to make profits given it is incurring a loss on the Rs 251 smartphone.
While Ringing Bells’ delivery and manufacturing model remains unclear, the company is promising deliveries from August 15 for its new set of products. The statement is unlikely to inspire confidence, especially because there weren’t any devices on display at the event today.
Chadha says the company will continue to deliver Freedom 251, whether or not they get ‘blessings’ from the government. In an interview with IANS, Goel had sought Rs 50,000 crore from the government to help manufacture the phones.
“We have sought help from the Prime Minister for Freedom 251. We want to explain our business model and in that effort we seek blessing from the government. We are not necessarily looking for financial help, there are other ways the government can help us,” said Chadha today.
“We will not run away from India. We have not taken any money from our customers and we will deliver on our promise of giving away 7.5 crore units of Freedom 251 in the country,” says Mohit Goel.
While getting a Freedom 251, Ringing Bells’ first smartphone, still seems like a distant dream, we will have to wait and watch how the company plans to deliver its new products to customers.