Noida-based startup ‘Ringing Bells‘ has stunned the world earlier this year when it announced the launch of the world’s cheapest smartphone called Freedom 251. The company claimed to sell smartphones at absurdly low prices i.e., at $4 (Rs 251). Since then, the company has been hitting the headlines for some or the other reason. The company is hogging the headlines yet again, this time, involving PM Narendra Modi.
Saying that the company is losing around $2.5 to $4 on each handset, Ringing Bells CEO Mohit Goel has now asked the Indian government for a whopping $7.5 billion (Rs 50,000 crore), so that it can fulfil its promise of providing inexpensive smartphones to millions of Indians.
“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,” Mohit Goel said on July 6, who has written to the prime minister’s office (PMO) seeking funds.
- There were many Trolls on Freedom 251, on the day of it’s sale.
Freedom 251: The World’s Cheapest Smartphone
In February 2016, Ringing Bells has launched the ‘Freedom 251‘, the handset which comes with an Android Lollipop 5.1 operating system,1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 8GB storage and a 3.2-megapixel camera – that too at a very cheap price of Rs 251. Within days of its launch, the company received an astounding 73 million bookings. The company had promised to deliver 2.5 million phones by July. But after four months of its launch, Ringing Bells has only managed to ready 200,000 phones for delivery.
Now, as the company gears up to deliver its first batch of 5000 devices from July 8, the company CEO says that the company faced a loss and may deliver more units if only they get help from the government. “We may deliver more units if we get help or we may not deliver at all in the upcoming months,” Anmol Goel told news daily.
In a letter written to the Prime Minister’s Office (dated June 28), asking for a meeting with Narendra Modi, Ringing Bells said: “We have brought ‘Freedom 251’ which we offer on ‘Cash on Delivery’ terms but we have a gap between the BOM (Bill of Materials) and the Selling Price. We, therefore, humble request government support to actualize the objective to cascade the availability and usage of smartphones all through the far reaches of our great nation.”
In the letter, Goel has also said that the government can give the money to another manufacturer. “The government can make the phone under our Freedom brand, from some other vendor. I have no objection to it,” Goel said.
According to the promoters, it costs Rs1,180 ($17.49) to make the phone. While they say they can recover Rs 700 ($10.37) to Rs 800 ($11.85) per handset from app developers, the company will still lose between Rs 180 ($2.67) and Rs 270 ($4) on each phone.
However, the Indian Express newspaper, which has described the company’s math as ‘befuddling’ has quoted that “Most industry groups point out: A Freedom 251 device costs minimum of Rs2500 ($37) to make. So Goel’s claim that he is losing only Rs 180-170 per phone is astounding,”
The company has no manufacturing facilities in India; it claims the phones are only assembled here. The company hasn’t yet delivered a single Freedom 251 smartphone.
Meanwhile, on July 7, Ringing Bells has launched what it claims to be India’s cheapest LED TV (31.5-inch model) which will be priced below Rs 9,900, way lower than market standards.
- If in case you didn’t know – Here’s everything that you need to know about Freedom 251.