Reliance Jio may soon add another product to its low-cost bevy of offerings, this time thanks to its partnership with tech giant Google. The company is reportedly developing a low-cost laptop called JioBook, which would run on a version of Android, called JioOS. Currently, the company sells JioPhone, a low-cost 4G-enabled JioPhone running KaiOS. This is besides the company’s 4G network, broadband offerings and a bouquet of digital services.
According to a report on XDA, an online resource portal for developers, the JioBook prototype uses the hardware of American chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies, which also invested in Jio last year during its mega funding spree. The laptop may have in-built Jio 4G connectivity and several Jio mobile applications pre-installed. But its pricing is as yet unknown.
The China Connection In Jio’s Plans
Jio is also partnering with China-based engineering firm Bluebank Communication Technology to develop the laptop. Bluebank is the company behind KaiOS, which powers the JioPhone among other feature phone devices
For Reliance Jio, which has previously been hailed as a ‘clean telco’ by the US for not using Chinese equipment, the tie-up with a Chinese firm for developing products comes as a revelation. In the past, Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani has also claimed that Reliance Jio is the only network in the world that doesn’t use any Chinese equipment.
While the price of the product is not yet known, the report mentions that it will be less expensive than the current products, since there are no Google Play apps pre-installed. Pre-installing Google’s suite of applications requires a license to distribute Google Mobile Services, which is a cost that many vendors are willing to pay for the support it offers, but it increases the price of the product.
With a 1366×768 resolution, the JioBook would have to be priced at less than INR 20,000 to compete with existing laptops with similar specifications in the market.
Will Jio Target Education, Small Business Market With JioBook?
A low-cost Jio laptop bundled with the company’s 4G connection could also be a product targeted towards students taking online learning classes since the pandemic last year disrupted the typical school calendar. Last year, Jio had also talked about the edtech use cases of its video conferencing solution JioMeet. Perhaps, its new laptop will be another addition to its enterprise offerings for schools and colleges.
The product went into development in September last year and could hit the market in the second half of this year.
Another Jio hardware product in the offing is JioGlass, a mixed reality solution that would enable 3D virtual interactions. Jio Glass will weigh 75 grams and will need to be connected to a smartphone with a cable to power it. The company has said that it will come with 25 in-built apps to allow augmented reality video meetings and more. The product would be powered by Jio’s indigenous 5G solution, currently in trial. Not much is known about the launch date for the product.
In December last year, it was reported that Reliance was planning to relaunch its 4G JioPhones in the next quarter. The telecom giant had faced component supply issues for many months and the Covid-19 pandemic further impacted the production of JioPhones.
More details about what users can expect from Jio in 2021 can be found in an earlier Inc42 story: ‘From 5G To JioMart-WhatsApp Partnership — Reliance Jio’s Plans For 2021’.