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Datawind’s low-cost smartphone with free internet to launch on March 17


Canadian low-cost mobile devices manufacturer Datawind, which had revealed plans of launching an Rs 2,000 smartphone bundled with free internet for life last year, is expected to launch the phone on March 17, reports BGR India. It’s worth noting that Datawind hasn’t yet tied-up with any network operator, though the BGR India report mentions that the company is expected to announce a partnership next week. Interestingly, Datawind was in talks with a “private operator to launch mobile phones with free basic Internet services for one year”, in January this year, as indicated by this PTI report. Nothing seems to have materialised from the talks yet. Also, it seems the smartphone will now be priced at Rs 3,000.

It’s worth noting that last year Datawind had tied-up (pdf) with mobile devices retail store UniverCell and BSNL to offer its UbiSlate 7Cz and UbiSlate 3G7 tablets with 12 months of unlimited free internet. Users had to use the UbiSurfer browser to avail the unlimited free internet offer. In case a different browser was used the data usage limit was 250MB per month.

The smartphone is expected to feature a 4-inch display, 1.2 GHz processor, and run on Android KitKat.

The company had raised C$30 million (around Rs 150 crore) from its initial public offering (IPO) on the Toronto Stock Exchange, last year, and this money has been earmarked for this project. That’s quite interesting, because at the time the company had mentioned that it’ll be utilising the funds for:

– Around C$10 million as incremental working capital to support the increased manufacturing volume with its contract manufacturers

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– Around C$5 million to launch infomercials, introduce broader retail sales channels and offer retail credit terms

– Around C$3.3 million to expand into new geographical locations including markets such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America over the next two years

– Around C$3.7 million to build out its management team and retain additional key personnel

– Around C$1.31 million for fulfilling unpaid salaries, fees to consultants and advisors and all outstanding related party loans and accrued interest

– The remaining proceeds to fund other working capital and for general corporate purposes.

When the Datawind smartphone does launch, it’ll be competing with the likes of Spice Mobiles’ Firefox OS-powered smartphone Fire One Mi-FX 1, priced at Rs 2299.

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Datawind is still best known as the maker of the Aakash tablets and the delays and disputes that plagued the project (Aakash project timeline).

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