In a recent meeting at Niti Aayog, government officials and some representatives of mobile handset manufacturers came under one roof to find out ways to make ultra-affordable mobile phones for the last mile customer.
The government urged the device makers to come out with Rs 2,000 smartphone that will give an impetus to the cashless economy and pave way for making digital transactions at fingertips.
The demand also included to embed QR code scanning capabilities, a biometric security through a fingerprint scanner, in the sub Rs 2,000 handsets. However, the government ruled out any scope of subsidizing the phones.
Connecting the unconnected is, of course, a welcome move, but at the same time a holistic view is required for making mobile phones accessible to the last mile customer.
Firstly, offering mobile phones at sub-Rs 2,000 means fewer profit margins for the device makers. At the same time, the sustainability of this mobile phone for a long period is also a very big question mark as this would require ramping up of after sales service and going by customers’ experience mobile manufacturers hold a huge gap in this arena with poor customer services at times.
On the other hand, there is a dire need to improve the services and making them affordable as well. Although, not to deny the fact that we have the world’s cheapest tarriffs and with Reliance Jio offering free voice calls and country’s top operator Bharti Airtel following the suit, we are already in a sweet spot.
But again, the question comes how long we can maintain sustainability and therefore, the government should ponder upon providing some free call schemes to the under-privileged lot of the country in collaboration with the telcos.
Talking from the services point of view, there’s a lot of room for network service providers and device manufacturers to work in sync for better coverage.
For instance, a device could be manufactured taking into account certain geography and certain needs of that particular region and of course, the spectrum band telcos are holding in that particular area and all these are possible with the joint efforts of device manufacturers and telcos.
With the changing times, the needs of human are also getting changed and it would not be wrong to say that we are ushering in the era of ‘Roti, Kaapra, Makan aur ek Mobile Phone’!