Freedom 251 – Marketing Gimmick or A Scam?

freedom-251-hands-on-revealed-1

The whole social media was buzzing with the news of a smartphone which will cost you less than your 3G data plan. The phone is named as Freedom 251 and is made by a Noida based company named Ringing Bells.

So, who exactly are the people behind this revolutionary product and what other stuff have they made before this?

Well, the company (http://ringingbells.co.in/index.html) was registered 5 months back and boast to have 3 products: Smart 101, Master and 4U. All of them were sold out in 72 hours.

Impressive Stuff!!!

Ringing bells

Who are the guys behind it and what have they done in the past?

The company’s owner name is Mohit Goel and has 2 other partners who come from an agri-commodity business background. They have been in the business of trading sugar, spices and dry fruits for three generations. In short, no tech background. But that did not stop them from giving us something which nobody thought was possible before.

Freedom 251.

Vision?

“Empower citizens, even in the remotest rural and semi-urban centres of India, with the latest in digital technology at incredible affordable prices and cascade knowledge, news and current issues so that all experience the confidence of inclusive growth and equal opportunity – In short, innovative solutions for a Brighter tomorrow”

Specs?

It’s a 3G dual-SIM phone with a 4-inch HD IPS touchscreen and a 1.3 GHz quad core processor running Android Lollipop 5.1. It has 8GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM and a 3.2 MP camera with a battery of 1450 mAH. Not too bad for a phone that costs around 251 rupees.

The company has yet to get its BIS certification which is mandatory to sell such products but they still went on to put it up for sale.

How to Buy it?

iOghxy4

Orders were open on its website on February 18.  The Website is revolutionary too. So much that at one point of time, you could buy half the phone. Few hours, later the website crashed.

Whether they will be back or not? No idea.

By the way, the payment option has no COD option available. So, their vision of reaching rural areas went for a toss. Nevertheless, still a revolutionary product.

Such Low Price?

Insane PR! Obviously but how they will be doing it?

State governments waiving off duties (which it is expecting), can lower the cost by 20-30 percent. It is also expecting a nearly 35 percent cost reduction by selling only on the internet through its own channel – just like Aakash tablet did.

Finally, the company expects a duty waiver of 13.8 percent by the upcoming goods and services tax waiver, through make-in-India and startup schemes. The rest of the cost reduction will be achieved through ‘economies of scale’.

In short, 50% of the people who went ahead and bought it will not be getting anything and they will have no complaints about it as they lost just 251 rupees.

What is the catch here?

It is a marketing gimmick. Just like Datawind who brought the infamous Akash Tablet. Even after failing they are still selling other products which Ringing Bells will do too.

And if it is not a marketing gimmick then it is a scam done in broad day light. Few reasons why it all looks so fishy:

  • The Website (Freedom251.com) was created on 10th February, 2016.

As, we can see from (whois.net).

Domain Name: FREEDOM251.COM

Registrar: BIGROCK SOLUTIONS LIMITED

Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 1495

Whois Server: Whois.bigrock.com

Referral URL: http://www.bigrock.com

Name Server: NS-1311.AWSDNS-35.ORG

Name Server: NS-1974.AWSDNS-54.CO.UK

Name Server: NS-662.AWSDNS-18.NET

Name Server: NS-78.AWSDNS-09.COM

Status: clientTransferProhibited https://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited

Updated Date: 14-feb-2016

Creation Date: 10-feb-2016

Expiration Date: 10-feb-2017

You are about to launch one of the biggest deals ever and your website was created 8 days before that. And it is valid for just one year. A company with such great dreams of changing lives of millions of people only buys a domain name with 2 years validity?

Ok, let us suppose the website maker (www.halwits.com) are superb at their work and they managed to do it. But how can you back them up when their own website is unreachable.

  • Mobile industry raised concerns on Freedom 251 smartphone

Indian Cellular Association writes to Ravi Shankar Prasad, says the rate can’t be below Rs. 3,500 even after a subsidised sale. (http://www.livemint.com/Industry/T1MRpN1rExszFvNeabvRJN/Mobile-industry-raises-concerns-on-Freedom-251-smartphone.html)

  • Prototype was made by using whitener on an Adcom Ikon 4 phone.

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