In February there was a buzz on the Internet about an Indian company, Ringing Bells, that was promising a smartphone for 251 indian rupees, about 4 S $. The promised phone was a full fledged smartphone, with a photo-camera (8Mpixels), 8 GB of memory and a 4" colour screen (see clip).
I did not report the news since it seemed a scam or an early April fool. And so it seemed to many more, looking at comments on the Web.
Yet, today the company is supposedly shipping 200,000 Freedom 251 (251 as the rupees to buy it) now rebranded as Smart 101. The company is declaring they are making a loss, not exactly clear how big the loss is, between 2 and 8$ depending on the statements I was able to get from the web (the official story is they are losing 2$ per set). Their see this as a subsidy for getting the millions of Indian poor that do not own a cell phone (nor a smartphone) to get one and they hope to get some revenues over time through the use of the phone. It won't surely be the first time that a product is sold under-cost so it could even be ok.
What is amazing, to me, even if this is a scam, is the fact that we have come to the point that a 4$ (or even a 15$) smart phone is credible.
The lowest price for a smart phone in India so far was 1,500 Rupees (22$) although one is announced at 999 Rupees (14$). These are already incredible prices. They show how much technology has progressed both in performance and, most importantly, in cost decrease.
Simply unbelievable, yet, it is real. I'll monitor the Freedom 251 and will come back as more information is available.