Freedom 251:A hoax or a reality?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Aman Pasari, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Noida-based startup Ringing Bells grabbed all the attention it wanted as well as unwanted, by announcing the world’s cheapest smartphone Freedom 251 at just Rs 251.
At the onset, it appeared to be a scam of ,more than thousand of crores of rupees. Many of the tech gurus argued that it was not possible for a company to sell a smartphone at that cost.

Everyone started to contemplate that it is a mega crores scam of looting money from the common people and then returning it back after 6 months by getting interest from that money.But in the last couple of days the company came out to clarify the launch of their product and discussed the future course of action in a press conference.

According to an official statement, “We just wanted to show a prototype of what the handsets will look like. This is not the final piece. We obviously want to provide ‘Made in India’ handsets as that is the core of our vision. We did a quick and intensive search and located the components but due to the touch plate, we faced a problem in view of the fragile nature in addition to the scratch-proof requirements of the piece.”

PayUBiz, the payment partner released a statement saying, “As a leading payment solution company, we are cognizant of both our merchants and buyers. With a surge in no. of queries received for Freedom 251 during last few days, we are cautious towards the payments being made by buyers to buy Freedom 251. As a responsible payment solution company, we have ensured that the buyer’s money remains safe with us and gets released to the merchant once the product is dispatched. In case the merchant is not able to fulfil the huge demand they have received, we will work with merchant to return the money to buyers.”

In the past one week, Ringing Bells has been under scrutiny over delivering Rs 251 phone. Many have voiced their opinion saying how Freedom 251 is nothing but a scam including Kirit Somaiya. The BJP MP had approached telecom ministry, telecom regulator TRAI, Consumer Ministry, SEBI, Corporate Ministry Finance Ministry, RBI and state governments to check various concerns that he has on company offering mobile phone for Rs 251– which is the world’s cheapest.

While most people are questioning how the company will achieve the Rs 251 price point, Ringing Bells’ Director Mohit Goel goes on to claim that the company will make Rs 31 profit on each unit sold. President Ashok Chadha has also said that the price per unit is around Rs 1500, and not Rs 2500 disclosed during the launch.

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