We’re still not convinced it’s not an elaborate scam, but the Freedom 251 – known globally as the “$4 smartphone” – will begin shipping to customers soon. At least that’s what the CEO of the company that sells the device is promising.
When Ringing Bells, an obscure company based in Noida, announced it would sell a real smartphone for just Rs. 251, consumers and media were almost universally skeptical. And rightly so, seeing that the “prototype” Freedom 251 units that Ringing Bells showed to the press were actually Adcom Ikon 4 units disguised with corrector fluid…
Despite skepticism – and a police investigation – Ringing Bells pushed on with its plan and eventually gathered a whopping 70 million registrations for the device. The company said it would deliver the first 2.5 million units by the end of June.
CEO Mohit Goel told IANS that Ringing Bells will only be able to deliver a fraction of what it promised – about 200,000 units will ship out starting on June 30.
Goel said Ringing Bells would open a second phase of registrations for the Freedom 251 after it ships the first 200,000 units. It isn’t clear why the company needs another registration round, given the massive number of registrations it received back in February.
Despite not yet delivering on his initial promises, Goel considers that he already proved critics wrong:
“We learned from our mistakes and decided to go silent till we come out with the product. Now we have a 4-inch, dual-SIM phone ready for delivery. I feel vindicated,” he said.
Ringing Bell plans to sell around 200,000 Freedom 251 every month, despite taking a Rs. 140-150 loss per unit. The company said it would partner with third-party developers to preload apps on the device, and, rather counterintuitively, hopes that it would reduce its losses once it ramps up shipments.
Mohit Goel’s dreams go beyond giving away smartphones. The Ringing Bell CEO said the company would introduce the cheapest television sets in India next month. But they won’t be as cheap as the Freedom 251 – Ringing Bells’ HD LCD TV set will reportedly cost Rs. 10,000.
Has anyone here ordered the Freedom 251? Do you believe it’s actually real?