Freedom 251 from Ringing Bells is the phone that literally shook the nation and caused a frenzy. A couple of days back we witnessed the launch of the cheapest Android phone in the world at just Rs 251 (~$4). Moments after the launch, the phone was mired with controversies and ambiguities, something which we have elaborated in this article.
Despite the controversies, the Freedom 251 kept getting the interest from people and now we get to know that the booking for the Freedom 251 has been closed and the company has cited heavy demands and overwhelming response to be the reason for the same. Although the company didn’t comment about the second phase of sale, it is worth noting that Ringing Bells claims to have registered a staggering 6.17 crore (61.7 Million) units for both the days (3.70 crore on Day 1 and 2.47 crore on Day 2). Now in all likelihood, the figures are mostly true which inadvertently gives rise to yet another startling question, how on earth will Ringing Bells manage to manufacture such a huge number, that too without a manufacturing facility at place.
Even if the company envisages to commission out the production to Adcom, it is nearly impossible for them to achieve such huge numbers over the next 4 months. The Ministry has already sought a BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certification and will also be running background checks on the company. Considering the multitude of revenue raked in by the recent orders the IT departments are already up and running to check for any discrepancies.
The Freedom 251 has been the talk of the town and the very fact that its partners are willing to invest heavily in the project seems sketchy. As Firstpost pointed out, the localization and the sheer number of phones manufactured is expected to bring down the cost by Rs 800 from the original Rs 2000. Adding to the price reduction will be the fact that they will be selling the phone only on their platform thus avoiding seller fees. In spite of all these highly optimistic predictions, the phones cost will come to at least around Rs 600 and considering that Ringing Bells is planning to sell 1-crore devices a month the “secret” partners need to dish out a total of Rs 350 Crores every month, which is outrageous.
One of my personal favorite conspiracy theories is that this might all be a part of a Ponzi scheme where the phones will be manufactured by the capital earned by the next set of orders rather than the profit or the investment itself.
Update: Another report says that Ringing Bells got 30,000 confirmed pre-orders on day 1. It remains to be seen how many of these 6.17 crore registrations actually turn into pre-orders.