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Is Ringing Bells' Freedom 251 smartphone worth Rs 3600?

The Controversy Over ‘Rs 251 Smartphone’ Took Another Turn Today When A Delhi-based Firm Adcom Said It Sold About 1,000 Handsets To Ringing Bells For Rs 3,600 A Unit And Was Unaware Of Its Reselling Plans.

PTI | Updated on: 05 Mar 2016, 08:29:05 AM

New Delhi:

The controversy over ‘Rs 251 smartphone’ took another turn today when a Delhi-based firm Adcom said it sold about 1,000 handsets to Ringing Bells for Rs 3,600 a unit and was unaware of its reselling plans.

Ringing Bells, which announced launch of the Freedom 251 smartphone, however said that Adcom provided some prototypes that it handed to some special guests, including media, for initial impression.

“We have other partners for assembly of our phones,” Ringing Bells said in a statement.

When asked about the partner, a company spokesperson named one Noida-based Eminence Technologies.

Adcom also warned of legal action against Noida-based Ringing Bells in case the latter’s activities adversely impact its brand name or cause any other kind of losses.

Ringing Bells last month unveiled the Freedom 251 phone which is being touted as the world’s cheapest smartphone.

The company showcased some sample devices, which resembled Adcom’s smartphone Ikon 4, which is already available in the market at Rs 3,999.

“Yes, it is true that although we sold the handsets to Ringing Bells earlier, like we sell Adcom mobiles to lakhs of users, we were absolutely unaware of the reselling plans of the company in question. Furthermore, we still haven’t been able to evaluate their pricing policy, as we sold the handsets at Rs 3,600 per unit,” Advantage Computers (Adcom) Founder and Chairman Sanjeev Bhatia said in a statement.
Bhatia also told PTI that Ringing Bells bought 1,000 devices from them and has made the payment also. Bhatia also said Ringing Bells was talking about an order of lakhs of devices but haven’t placed the order yet.

Ringing Bells said its sudden rise should not be misconstrued as a fly-by-night operation. The company has already instructed the payment gateway to refund the few online payments that came in on the first pre-booking 18/2 date.

“The mode of payment now will be only cash on delivery.  The orders placed by the customers are not cancelled but the payment will be taken only on delivery. Ringing Bells hopes to begin deliveries of Freedom 251 by around end of April,” it added.

However, Adcom said the company is deeply grieved by this incident where its mobile phone has been presented to masses for Rs 251, and therefore, it would not hesitate from taking any legal actions against Ringing Bells, in case the entire fiasco impacts Adcom’s brand name or subsequently it face any other kind of losses.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had already said the government was monitoring Ringing Bells and would take action if it fails to deliver the Rs 251 handset. Bhatia asserted that Adcom in no way is connected or linked to Ringing Bells or Freedom 251 and bears no responsibility, whatsoever, in the whole episode and regret the inconvenience caused to its customers from all over the country”.

Regarding the controversy surrounding its office in Noida, Ringing Bells said, “We wish to make it clear that the current dispute regarding the nature of business conducted at the property is between Noida authority and our landlord. It is our humble request not to drag us in any controversy.”

A new entrant in the flourishing Indian mobile handset market, Ringing Bells had unveiled what is being touted as the world’s cheapest smartphone. However, concerns have been raised by the industry on feasibility of a 3G smartphone at such a low price.

Ringing Bells has said the manufacturing cost of the phone is about Rs 2,500, which will be recovered through a series of measures like economies of scale, innovative marketing, reduction in duties and creating an e-commerce marketplace.

The I-T Department is also looking into the financial structure of the company and has obtained documents, including those from the Registrar of Companies (RoC), in this regard.

A series of complaints were made to the Telecom Ministry against the company. Apart from BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, the Indian Cellular Association (representative of mobile handset manufacturers) had also approached the Ministry asking it to get into depth of the issue.

They said the price of the device with the said specifications could not be below Rs 3,500 even after a subsidised sale.

Despite controversies, Ringing Bells managed to received over six crore registrations in two days. 

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First Published : 05 Mar 2016, 08:27:00 AM