WhatsApp launched for JioPhone – High Risk/High Reward for India

A few months ago Reliance owned JioPhone 2 was launched in India with a promise of WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube app support on JioPhone. The hype for WhatsApp was immense but unfortunately, the WhatsApp app launch was delayed. Today, 10 September 2018, the app finally debuted on JioPhone App store. Anyone using last year launched JioPhone 1 or the latest Qwerty keypad JioPhone 2 can install this app right away.

JioPhone accounts for about 27% of the mobile market share in India with over 40 million units sold within a year. And this huge number cannot be overlooked. It was patently clear for tech giants like Facebook, Google that there is new territory to be covered.  The land grabbing started with India’s own Movie/Event ticket app BookMyShow app followed by Google Assistant integration with JioPhone and many more apps. But WhatsApp was sought by many Indians.  And surprisingly it didn’t take Facebook much time to develop this app considering the device limitations. The App is ready is install and activate now. Amongst all the feature phone (dumb phone) JioPhone takes about 50% of the Indian feature phone market. And the addition of WhatsApp will even appeal to more users to buy JioPhone.

WhatsApp has changed many policies to comply with Indian Government after the recent mob lynching activity that was fueled by WhatsApp’s fake news forward. And with the addition of more digitally-not-well-educated users on WhatsApp might make this even worse for India and as well as for WhatsApp. The new users may not know how to identify the news and content that is being shared.  Albeit WhatsApp has put a limitation on message forwards to up to 5 times but this doesn’t stop people from believing the false news. With the numbers keep growing this is gonna be an uphill battle for WhatsApp to counter the fake news in the country.

On the other hand, it is very exciting to see many people will get online and can connect with their friends on family without needing a smartphone. The App is very simple and straightforward to use just like the one that we saw on Nokia Symbian phones. You can send texts, images, videos and voice messages on WhatsApp on JioPhone. Not a lot WhatsApp features are supported right now. Features such as live location, emojis, and status are not yet available. But that is something the user of WhatsApp won’t be wanting for some time and it can be changed in near future updates.

JioPhone running KaiOS also powers some of the new Nokia phones and 4G feature phone in European countries. So there is a good chance that other phone running KaiOS will also get WhatsApp app.

With the new population on board on the platform and the Indian General Election, 2019 nearing we can only hope that it doesn’t turn into a fiasco. Finger’s crossed and do help your grandmother to send her first WhatsApp message on her smartphone (pun intended).

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I’ll be hanging out there for quite some time.


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