It was considered as smart phone revolution in India. It had hit the headlines of newspapers and websites not only in India but across the world. Ringing bells was the name of the company. It had promised that it will provide 2,00,000 smart phones across the country at a price for which you may not even get a good footwear. In July the company had said that it had distributed around 5000 smart phones to those people who had pre-booked. However, the sound of the ringing bells has faded and vanished in the recent times.
‘Freedom 251’, the name is familiar to many, especially the youth. People had gone crazy about it because nowhere in the world one can get a smart phone for that price, that too a fresh piece. However, many with technical knowledge and rational thinking had questioned this business model as it could not be sustainable. Because, the manufacturing cost of a phone with the features that Freedom 251 was offering could have cost at least 3,000 to 4,000. Even though company said that pre-booking is necessary to confirm the order, since the payment gateway crashed, they offered cash on delivery option too. By February of this year, the company had announced that it will supply at least 2.5 lakhs of phones and by then the bookings had reached 70 lakhs.
The CEO of Ringing Bells Pvt (ltd), Mr. Mohit Goel, also posed before the media and gave a statement that even government can manufacture these phones by allocating some money from Digital India initiative and it will give a big push in realizing Prime Minister Modi’s dream of Digital India.
Where is Freedom 251 now? Most of the people have forgotten about it. They had not booked it because they wanted a smart phone. But they definitely wanted to have one since it was sold at a very cheap price. Since hardly few had paid money through payment gateway and most of them had opted for Cash on delivery, they are not really concerned about what happened to this company!
However, it is a matter for the government to be concerned about. This is a major issue of corporate governance. If companies can befool people of this country by such irrational offers, then it is the responsibility of the government to protect the people. When the experts say that minimum amount required to manufacture a smartphone is Rs. 2000, government should have questioned the company when it offered at Rs 251. The regulatory agencies in this country should be more robust to curb such hoax. Ethical practices have to be brought in forcefully into corporate sector. If demonetisation could bring people into banking net, then definitely the government can bring corporate sector into ethical net.
You can reach the author on twitter @aksharadamle