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Chips Crisis Forces Reliance And Google To Delay India Smartphone Launch

The budget JioPhone Next had been due to hit the shops this week but the worldwide semiconductor shortage has pushed back its release to November

A Jio mobile phone is on display inside a Reliance digital store in Mumbai. Photo: Reuters

 

Indian giant Reliance Industries has delayed the launch of the low-cost smartphone it is developing with Google, blaming the industry-wide semiconductor shortage.

The “ultra-affordable” smartphone, developed jointly by Reliance’s telecom arm and Google, was set to be rolled out from Friday but has now been put back to November.

Companies across the globe have been hammered by the massive semiconductor shortage as the Covid pandemic-led shift to remote working drove demand for the critical component used in making laptops and phones. 

 

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The shortages saw several major automakers forced to suspend production and many white-goods producers hit too. 

“Both the companies have begun testing JioPhone Next with a limited set of users for further refinement and are actively working to make it available more widely in time for the Diwali festive season,” Jio said in an exchange filing late on Thursday.

The annual festive season in India typically lasts for 30 days, beginning in October and ending with Diwali – set for November 4 this year. Indians usually make big-ticket purchases from jewellery to gadgets and cars around this period.

The additional time will also help mitigate the current industry-wide global semiconductor shortages, Jio added.

 

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In June, when the phone was announced, Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani claimed it would be the most affordable smartphone “not just in India, but globally.”

Jio disrupted India’s telecom market in 2016 when it launched with cut-price data plans and free voice services, forcing several competitors out of the market. It is now India’s biggest mobile carrier with more than 425 million customers.

Ambani had also said in June that Jio, which counts Facebook, Qualcomm and Intel among its backers, was confident of being the first to launch 5G services in India.

 

  • Reuters and Sean O’Meara

 

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Sean OMeara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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