Google will invest Rs 33,737 crore ($4.5 billion) for a 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms and will also help it develop affordable smartphones.
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani announced the mega deal at Reliance’s AGM on Wednesday, though much of the thunder of the announcement was stolen by the media, which had reported on the proposed deal on Tuesday.
However, the investment by Alphabet Inc’s Google is more than the reported $4 billion. In terms of valuations, it is 11 per cent lower than the recent deals struck at Jio Platforms such as the Qualcomm investment though it is similar to that paid by Facebook.
A statement by RIL said this investment by Google values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.36 lakh crore. With this latest investment, strategic and financial investors have committed Rs 152,056 crore in the subsidiary.
RIL and Google have also entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimisations to the Android operating system.
Addressing the shareholders, Ambani said the company will now develop an entry level 4G smartphone and possibly also a 5G smartphone with Google helping it with the operating system. He pointed out that there were many featurephone users who are waiting to upgrade to a conventional smartphone, provided it was more affordable.
“We believe we can design an entry-level 4G or even 5G smartphone for a fraction of its current cost. But, to power such a value engineered smartphone, we also need an equally value-engineered smartphone operating system and such an operating system must be designed with India in mind,’’ he said.
Further, in what could be bad news for providers like Huawei, Ambani said that Jio has developed an indigenous 5G network solution which will enable it to launch 5G services in India using home grown technologies and solutions.
He added that this solution will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available it can be ready for field deployment next year. Further, it also can be exported to other telecom operators globally.
Ambani was however, silent on using Qualcom chipsets in such 5G phones, a possibility that cannot be ruled out in the coming months.
At the shareholders meet, Reliance also unveiled the Jio TV+ which will take on Airtel Xstream and the other DTH services. The aggregator which will have more than a dozen over the top platforms apart from other TV channels and users can access them in a single click. It is expected to provide a big boost to the JioFiber rollout which was marked by very poor content to ride on fast data speeds.
Reliance also showcased its latest product-Jio Glass which aims to give users a `truly meaningful immersive experience’.