Briefing

Google buys 7.73 per cent stake in Reliance’s Jio for US$4.5 billion

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The two companies will also co-develop “an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: Tech giants offering low-cost internet access tied to their particular platforms have previously faced consumer, advocacy and government resistance in India. In August 2016, the country’s telecom regulator banned Facebook’s Free Basics, which gave no-data wireless subscribers access to a limited number of sites. But a Google-Jio cheap smartphone could arrive at an opportune moment. Chinese device makers had a four-fifths share of the Indian smartphone market in the first quarter of 2020, but industry research firms expect that to fall amid a military standoff in Ladakh and consumer boycotts of Chinese products, particularly handsets. Last month, the Indian government banned dozens of popular Chinese apps. Jio—which also has the backing of Facebook and a host of new foreign investors—has had more success with Indian regulators. Google has now allocated nearly half of the US$10-billion India Digitization Fund it announced Monday.