Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced the launch of JioPhone Next, an Android platform smartphone, developed by the conglomerate’s telecom arm Reliance Jio, and technology company Google.
Ambani addressed the company’s shareholders at the annual general meeting of Reliance Industries. He said that the handset will be the “most affordable smartphone”. Ambani, however, did not specify the phone’s exact price or hardware specifications.
The phone will be available in markets from September 10, Ambani said.
“It is a fully featured smartphone supporting the entire suite of applications from both Google and Jio,” he added.
Addressing the shareholders’ meeting, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said the phone is “built for India and it will open up new possibilities”.
“Our vision was to bring affordable access to information for Indians in their own language, to build new products and services for India’s unique needs, and empower businesses with technology,” Pichai said.
Last year, Jio Platforms – Reliance Industries’ digital arm – secured an investment of Rs 33,737 crore from Google, which bought 7.7% stake in the company.
In another major announcement, Ambani said that Saudi Aramco chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan will join the Reliance Industries board as an independent director.
In August 2019, Ambani had announced the commencement of talks for selling a 20% stake in the company’s oil-to-chemicals, or O2C, business to Aramco, the biggest oil exporter in the world. The deal was then valued at $15 billion (over Rs 1.1 lakh crore). The deal was initially expected to be sealed by March 2021, but has got delayed without any official reason.
On Thursday, Ambani said he expected the deal to materialise this year. He added that Saudi Aramco chief’s presence as a board member would be the beginning of “internationalisation of Reliance”.
Reliance’s O2C business comprises oil refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat and its petrochemical assets.
The markets, however, did not warm up to the announcements made by Ambani. The Reliance Industries stock closed at Rs 2,153.35 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, losing 2.35% from the previous closing mark.