Jio Phone Impact, Airtel & Vodafone’s Plans to Beat Jio, WhatsApp Daily Active Users, and More: Your 360 Daily

The VoLTE-enabled Jio phone will slow down the shift from feature phones to smartphones, according to Counterpoint Research. The shift from 2G/ 3G phones to 4G handsets, however, will not be impeded as consumers on 2G feature phones and 3G smartphones are both expected to upgrade to newer 4G-capable models, such as Jio phone. The report says that over 150 million units of LTE handsets now exist in India, which makes it the world’s third-largest country in terms of LTE handsets.

Counterpoint data also said Chinese smartphone brands continue to dominate the Indian market with a market share of over 50 percent. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4Redmi 4Samsung Galaxy J2Oppo A37, and Samsung Galaxy J7 were the top five smartphones in India in terms of sales. Samsung (26.6 percent), Itel (15.7 percent), Micromax (8.6 percent), Lava (7.5 percent), and Intex (6.3 percent) account for the most feature phones sold in India, according to the same report. We’d love to see sales numbers of the Jio phone once it starts shipping. Its low price is likely to help it sell in large volumes. While the price tag may appear to be too tempting to resist, there are a lot of questions around the JioPhone which still need to be answered. On this week’s episode of Orbital podcast, we point out the catch for all those who want to buy the JioPhone.

While Counterpoint claims the Indian mobile phone market grew just 4 percent in the previous quarter, Canalys says the smartphone market, in fact, contracted for the first time. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, the Indian smartphone market saw shipments go down by 4 percent, with less than 27 million units hitting the market. According to the research firm, this dip can be attributed to the confusion around the impending introduction of GST on July 1. However, it adds the market should bounce back soon and will be stronger than before.

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Airtel has a plan to beat JioPhone, Vodafone tries to lure new customers
So what is Airtel’s plan to counter the JioPhone? Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal, in an investor call, said the company plans to tie up with 4G phone makers and offer bundled data plans. This ties in nicely with its plans to roll out its own 4G VoLTE services. As of now the only brand that has a 4G feature phone in the Indian market is LavaMicromaxIntex and Karbonn are expected to follow suit soon.

Vodafone, on the other hand, is still concentrating on its telecom business and has not said much about the Jio phone. For new prepaid customers joining its 4G network, Vodafone has launched a Rs. 244 pack that offers 1GB data per day for 70 days. However, this validity is for the first recharge only; the 70-day recharge is over and you buy another Rs. 244 pack, the validity will be 35 days only. Along with the daily data allowance, consumers will get unlimited local and STD calls on the Vodafone network. This plan is a direct competitor to the Rs. 399 Jio plan, which provides same data benefits, unlimited calls to any network, and free SMSs for 84 days.

WhatsApp has 1 billion daily active users
The WhatsApp juggernaut shows no signs of stopping. The world’s most popular messaging app now has over 1 billion daily active users. That’s not all, its WhatsApp Status feature, which was copied from Snapchat Stories and launched just four months ago, now has over 250 million daily active users. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, many people thought the price was too high, but in hindsight it looks like a bargain for the world’s most popular messaging service. Facebook too has over 2 billion monthly active users, which is an astounding number as well.

Amazon India plans to go offline to sell smartphones
Four years after entering India and doubling down on its investment to expand its online business in the country, Amazon is exploring the offline space. The e-commerce giant is in advanced talks with brick and mortar stores across the country to sell smartphones and other products of its online partners, people familiar with the matter have told Gadgets 360.

Amazon will help these smartphone companies, many of which don’t have a major market share in India, raise brand awareness, do marketing. The e-commerce company is talking to several offline retail giants for this, and one smartphone vendor that Amazon has been talking to is Chinese manufacturer Nubia. In a statement to Gadgets 360, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We work with several brands, including Nubia, on different aspects of their business to create an unparalleled customer experience.”

In other Amazon news, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has become the world’s richest person owing to a surge in the company’s stock price. With a fortune worth $90.9 billion, Bezos is, for now, richer than Bill Gates, who has a net worth of $90.7 billion. However, the order may shuffle once again if the Amazon stock price dips before the bell rings at 4pm EDT.

Axis Bank buys Freecharge for $60 million
It looks like the Flipkart-Snapdeal merger is one step closer after Snapdeal sold mobile wallet company Freecharge to Axis Bank for $60 million (roughly Rs. 385 crores). This number is vastly smaller than the sum Snapdeal had spent on acquiring Freecharge, estimated to be $400-450 million, and the move could indicate that Snapdeal is now ready for a sale to Flipkart.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Emperor Edition tipped
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 may get a variant that wins the specifications battle hands down. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Emperor Edition could be that variant, with the rumour mill suggesting that the phone will ship with 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage. Other leaks claim that the base variant of the Note 8 will feature 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If this rumour is true, then you can expect a hefty price tag on the Emperor Edition.

Meizu launches two phones with unusual rear displays
Chinese manufacturer Meizu has expanded its portfolio and launched two new smartphones in China. The Meizu Pro 7 and Meizu Pro 7 Plus smartphones are priced starting at CNY 2,880 (roughly Rs. 27,400) and CNY 3,580 (roughly Rs. 34,100) respectively. The highlight for these smartphones in the unique second AMOLED display at the back. The Meizu Pro 7 runs on Flyme OS 6 based on Android 7.0 Nougat and supports dual-SIM cards. It sports a 5.2-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display on the front and a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED secondary display at the back. While the Meizu Pro 7 Plus sports a 5.7-inch QHD SuperAmoled Displayand the secondary display at the back.

Grand Theft Auto 6 reportedly in development
Grand Theft Auto 6 is in development if an actor’s resume is to be believed. A new entry in the long-running open-world crime series has been expected though developer Rockstar has been mum on its prospects. Can’t blame them looking at how well GTA Online is doing, and the hype for Red Dead Redemption 2. Still, stunt and motion capture actor Tim Neff’s resume includes the Grand Theft Auto 6. Given how long GTA games take to hit the shelves, we won’t be surprised to see Rockstar not announce it officially anytime soon.

Ciao Google Instant Search
Google Instant Search is the latest Google product to be discontinued. Instant Search is a feature baked into the desktop version of Google that shows search results as you type the search query. Google claims that the move is to ensure feature parity between its desktop and mobile search engines, but fans of this feature are unlikely to be happy about it. 

Ola partners Zomato to restart food delivery service
On Thursday, Ola announced that it has partnered with restaurant search and discovery service Zomato to bring cab-food integrations to both the platforms. Ola says it’s an exclusive partnership with Zomato. As part of the partnership, Ola Play customers will now see a micro-app Zomato on the in-car infotainment system and be able to order food while they are still commuting. The announcement comes less than a month after Ola’s rival Uber expanded UberEATS to Delhi NCR. Unlike Ola, Uber has partnered directly with restaurants to deliver the food.

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