India’s Jio partners with Qualcomm to develop 4G laptop dubbed JioBook

Jio JioBook
Laptop graphic (not JioBook) by Wise_ant | Bigstockphoto

India’s top telco, Reliance Jio, is expected to expand the range of its consumer products with the launch of its first 4G-powered laptop, dubbed as JioBook, which will be running a customised version of Google’s Android operating system. The telco has reportedly named the operating system JioOS.

According to XDA Developers, the laptop will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 chipset with 4G connectivity. Qualcomm’s 205 platform already powers Jio’s 4G feature phone in India.

With the JioBook, Jio is expected to target the e-education market in the country. Due to the pandemic, schools and colleges opted for online learning, which has driven the demand for laptops and tablet PCs. Experts believe that the demand for laptops will continue in the market.

In 2020, Chinese handset companies like Xiaomi and Honor also forayed into the laptop space to capitalise on the opportunity.

India’s PC market, inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, grew 27% year-over-year (YoY) in terms of volumes in the October-December quarter of 2020, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

The growth driver continues to be the demand from e-learning and remote working, leading to a 74.1% and 14.1% annual growth in the consumer and enterprise segments, respectively, IDC said in its recent report, adding that 2020 ended as the biggest year for notebooks with 7.9-million-unit shipments during the year.

“The massive demand in the consumer segment driven by online learning led to the exceptional performance of notebooks. Likewise, gaming notebook PCs were one of the fastest-growing categories, further proof of the growing importance of gaming in the country,” said Bharath Shenoy, Market Analyst, PC Devices, IDC India.

Interestingly, Qualcomm had invested $97 million in Jio Platforms last year, which is the parent company of Reliance Jio.

Both companies are developing 5G solutions. Jio and Qualcomm recently claimed to have achieved over a 1 Gbps milestone on the Reliance Jio 5GNR solution, leveraging the Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms.

The development of the 4G-powered laptop was first revealed by a Qualcomm executive in 2018. However, the plans were to launch laptops running Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

The latest report also gives a peek into Jio’s upcoming 4G and 5G-enabled smartphones, which are being developed in partnership with American search major Google, which is expected to optimise its Android operating system to better integrate Jio’s various services and products.

XDA Developers reported that Jio has already entered into a partnership with China’s Bluebank Communication Technology for developing the laptop. The Chinese company claimed to have developed the JioPhone, which runs on KaiOS, an operating system for feature phones.

The report added that JioBook began in early September of 2020 and is expected to continue through the first half of 2021.

The laptop is expected to feature a 1366×768 pixel resolution display, up to 4GB LPDDR4X RAM, 64GB of eMMC 5.1 storage, support for WiFi over 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies, support mini HDMI for video output, Bluetooth, a three-axis accelerometer, and a Qualcomm audio chip. Jio is reportedly sourcing DRAM and NAND chips from Samsung.

As per various reports, the development of Jio’s 4G and 5G smartphones was delayed due to the supply chain disruption. The ultra-affordable 4G smartphone is expected to hit the market later this year, while the 5G smartphone launch will coincide with India’s 5G services launch.

Jio is reportedly planning to price its 5G smartphone at around $35-$40 to get 200-300 new subscribers to take its overall base to 600-700 million in coming years.

The Mukesh Ambani-led telco, which has also claimed to have developed its own end-to-end 5G network stack, is expected to subsidise its 5G smartphone in India.  Currently, 5G smartphones are available at a starting price of $230 in the country.

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