After conquering the feature phone market with its 4G-enabled JioPhone, Reliance is developing JioBook — a low-cost, 4G-enabled laptop that could launch by the end of the year.
The “larger-screened device” is expected to run a version of Android OS — which could be dubbed JioOS — and will bundle Jio’s suite of apps that can be accessed through a Jio 4G LTE connection.
The firmware of JioBook was spotted by XDA, a global developers’ community.
“Jio’s prototype laptop is currently using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 (sm6125), an 11nm chipset that was announced in early 2019. The chipset features a built-in 4G LTE modem — the Snapdragon X12 — that the JioBook will likely leverage to provide cellular connectivity to Reliance Jio’s expansive 4G network,” XDA stated on its blog.
Reliance is said to be partnering with China-based firm Bluebank Communication Technology to engineer the device. Bluebank has earlier developed devices, including JioPhones, that run on KaiOS.
Interestingly, in 2018, Reliance was in talks with Qualcomm to build a low-cost tablet for India. That device was expected to run Windows 10, and be powered by Jio 4G.
Why is Jio getting into laptops?
While India is predominantly a mobile phone market, 2020 was different. Driven by the work from home trend, the demand for notebooks went up in the last few quarters.
According to IDC, India shipped 7.9 million notebooks in 2020, making it the biggest year for the segment. In Q4 alone, notebooks made up three-fourths of total PC shipments in India, data showed.
IDC attributed the rise in notebook shipments to the staggering growth in remote working and online learning over the last 12 months. Incidentally, not just consumer sales, notebooks witnessed a strong pick-up in the enterprise segment too, with organisations rushing to fill the WFH infrastructure needs of their employees.
“This led to an all-time high of enterprise notebook purchases, with shipments growing by 105.5 percent y-o-y in Q2 2020. As a result, enterprises reduced desktop buying and even converted a few orders to notebooks,” IDC stated in its report.
Reliance, incidentally, is believed to have begun work on the JioBook in September 2020 to make the most of this new trend. This was also the time when Jio 4G’s ‘work from home’ data packs started to take off.
While the price of the upcoming JioBook is yet to be known, Reliance would likely look to democratise laptops in India, along with bundling its allied services.