Where’s the Indian $4 Android Smartphone Freedom 251?
The Freedom 251 is the Indian smartphone that company Ringing Bells launched for $4 (Rs 251) with the promise to distribute 200,000 units. Months later, it seems that everything has been far from these figures as the company is silent.
In February this year, many media portals proclaimed that buying an Android smartphone for $4 was possible and were right. The Freedom 251 manufactured by Ringing Bells, a phone with Android 5.1, 4-inch screen, 1GB of RAM and a 4-core chip, began to promote in India for just 251 rupees. Such measures made the public to really believe that this phone benefits traditional manufacturers instead of Chinese makers.
The situation obviously could not be explained only by the fact that smartphones have become a commodity. As Google did with the Nexus, Ringing Bells does not make money with the phone at all and even admitted to losing 140 to 150 rupees per unit. It is not too much but keep in mind that the business model with the phone is not based on obtaining profit. With this in mind, it is interesting to review how the events have unfolded around this controversial cheap gadget.
The Freedom 251 pre-sale officially began on 30 June this year, with a promise of stock of 200,000 units by the company. However, the company announced in July that it had only distributed 5,000 units, although the reserves were much higher.
Later Ringing Bells promised to extend this smartphone to 65,000 more consumers. The company also promoted its cheap LED television a couple of months ago. Since then nothing much has been heard about the company and their official website has been down too.
Nobody knows, therefore, where those 130,000 smartphones are. But the worst part is that the company was prepared to handle two and a half million orders before June 30 when it began to promote the Freedom 251. However, they got bombarded with record sales and could not handle the traffic. The company supposedly received a mammoth 70 million requests. Seeing the monster they had created, the company began making massive cancellations.
In Western markets, such a phone would have been a massive flop. However, in a developing nation like India, it was nothing short of a revolution.
In a market flooded with cheap smartphones between 50 and 80 dollars, the chance of getting something for $4 was too tempting to leave.
In the end, the case of this company is what already seemed at first, a way to draw attention to the brand and to seek funding from the government through aid programs for technological development.