Former BlackBerry India managing director Sunil Dutt has joined as the president of Reliance Industries’ data services venture Reliance Jio Infocomm, reports PTI. Dutt has confirmed this appointment to PTI but declined to share any specific details on his role.
A source-based The Economic Times report however suggests that he will be responsible for developing a portfolio of self-branded handsets which will be manufactured by third party vendors as well as managing the third party 4G handset portfolio for Reliance Jio. It also mentions that Reliance Jio is currently in talks with handset vendors like Samsung and TCL. Mathew Oommen, President of Strategy and Network, Reliance Jio had earlier mentioned that handset vendors Karbonn and Micromax are also testing 4G LTE-enabled smartphones with the company.
It’s worth noting that Reliance had mentioned a joint venture called Reliance Jio Electronics Private Limited in its annual report last year, in which the company owns 50% stake. However, it hadn’t disclosed any specific information on this joint venture.
There was also reports of Reliance Industries being in talks with Samsung to buy 4G-compatible low cost smartphones in March last year, however the deal apparently fell through over pricing issues, as Reliance Jio Infocomm wanted the handsets to be priced at Rs 5,500 while Samsung refused to go below Rs 8,500 along with a commitment that Reliance purchase 3 million handsets from them.
Dutt had quit as the managing director of BlackBerry India in March last year, following which he was working as an independent consultant for an year and half.
Before BlackBerry, Dutt was the President of Personal Systems Group at Hewlett-Packard India Sales Pvt. Ltd., responsible for expanding their business in enterprise, mid-market and consumer space. He was also the Country Head at Samsung India Electronics, Sales Director at Nokia India Pvt Ltd and Regional General Manager at Whirlpool of India Ltd. He has also held senior positions at Wipro Limited and Philips India.