Mobile News

No plans to build smartphone; focusing on affordability via partners: Airtel CEO – Economic Times

Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal clarified that it has no plans to build its own smartphone, rather it will partner with OEMs to bring smartphone offerings to the market.

Airtel is focusing on lending and alliances for smartphone affordability and will bring software capabilities for cashback and incentives. It wants to partner with device makers and ecommerce companies for availability, Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said, adding that Airtel is using its own data models to predict which customer is going to upgrade.

“Our strategy is to drive smartphone adoption…we are not keen on the subsidy game, but we want to be competitive in the market. We have developed software to target devices with incentives to minimize the cost,” Vittal said during an analyst call on Friday.

The top executive said that there’s no exclusivity for devices with Google under the partnership. “We prefer ecosystem play. We are not developing any exclusive device as it requires a different capacity play. We rather want to work with ecosystem players to provide smartphone access,” he added.

Vittal said that Airtel brought “Mera Pehla Smartphone” cashback program and ran pilots with lenders to bring down costs.

“We have software capability to monitor EMis on devices. we have targeted incentives for customers who are likelt to migrate. which will drive smaartphone adoption,” he added.“We are focusing on faster smartphone adoption. We have done well to drive 80 million from feature phone users to smartphone. We have seen it resulting in a jump in ARPU for Airtel,” he added.

With its partnership with Bharti Airtel, Google earlier today said that it plans to create new and innovative business models to help grow the Android OEM ecosystem in India.

“In the last two years, we have made steady progress on the goals we set to achieve with the Google for India Digitization fund, from building an India-focused Android experience for the country’s new internet users, to partnering with companies that are deeply vested in bringing the richness of the internet to people through localized content experiences,” Google said in a blog post.

Airtel said that it is putting $2.5 billion in capex every year and will continue to allocate capital across areas such as fiber, 5G and more.


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