For all the hype that has surrounded the launch of the “Rs. 251 smartphone,” as most people are calling the Freedom 251, the number of handsets that have actually been sold to customers from the freedom251.com website is a rather modest “30,000 plus,” Ringing Bell Director Mohit Goel told NDTV in an interview.
The Ringing Bell Freedom 251 smartphone, officially launched on Wednesday night to great fanfare, released to a storm of controversy with doubts about the phone’s price and viability.
Nonetheless, the phone generated enough interest that the company servers could not handle the load. On the website, the company states that it was getting six lakh hits per second, which caused it to shut down bookings for 24 hours, due to overloaded servers.
Talking to NDTV’s Rajiv Makhni, Ringing Bells President Ashok Chadha stated that the number of hits was as much as 63 lakh per second, which was more than the payment processor or server could handle. Despite this incredible number of visitors, Goel said only that over 30,000 units have been sold, less than what many other brands have been claiming to sell ‘within seconds’ despite much higher price tags.
The two Ringing Bells executives also confirmed that the company is selling the Freedom 251 at a loss to reach the Rs. 251 price point, but they hope to change that in the future. Chadha says that by not importing the phone, Ringing Bells is saving 13.5 percent per handset, and economies of scale will also reduce the per-unit cost of making the handsets. “We also have some innovative marketing concepts in place, because once we accomplish the scale we are looking at we become a route to market for people,” Chadha said, “and we already have NDAs with a lot of people for this. So all this will enable the phone’s price of Rs. 251.”
Chadha did not however mention what scale would be required to make this possible, just confirming that the government is not subsidising the Freedom 251, and that it will bear the losses of selling the phones until such a point. He did not clarify the per unit loss that Ringing Bells will have to bear for now. Chadha did however say that anyone who has ordered a phone and wants a refund before receiving the handset is shipped can get their money back.