Google invests in Jio, plans to co-develop smartphone

In the past few months, Reliance’s Jio Platforms has been on a funding spree with some major investments coming from Twitter, Qualcomm and other multinational brands. Google is joining this extensive list, which will pick a minority stake in India’s largest telco to build custom software and hardware solutions for India’s increasing smartphone appetite, particularly in the lower-end segment.

At today’s investor conference, Reliance revealed that after the latter’s 4G-enabled feature phone had seen huge success in the country, Google and Jio are teaming up to make entry-level 4G smartphones. A huge chunk of India’s billion-plus population has so far stuck to 2 G mobile phones, and their first choice is likely to be a cheap Android phone when they decide to turn out. That’s hundreds of millions of potential customers that Google and Jio would like to be able to take in. Down the line the pair can also come out with a 5G-enabled entry-level phone when 5 G is a real thing.

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Jio also plans to support Google in creating a custom Android-based operating system that presumably isn’t as resource-intensive as the standard version of Android. While Google already has the Android Go Edition program in place to address similar needs, it doesn’t seem to fit the bill for Jio for whatever reason. Officials at the company refrained from revealing any more information about this new App or any of the phones that could be in the pipeline.

Of the $10 billion fund Google announced last week for the Indian market, $4.5 billion will be invested for 7.7 per cent ownership in Jio Platforms. The Reliance company has raised more than $20 billion in the last few months alone, but much of it is still awaiting regulatory approval, including Google’s portion.

Additionally, Jio had some major announcements to make, such as his readiness to launch 5 G using the solutions built locally. It even unveiled its AR-enabled Jio Glass (pictured above), which could be used for mixed reality applications and will be available next year at some point. Finally, for most streaming apps, including big names like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Disney+ Hotstar, the JioTV+ app for the company’s media box has received a facelift to enable cross-app search and single sign-in. It has also added social features to live TV, such as content-related polls.