Jio- A tech giant in the making?

“With the $28 billion he’s raised working from home, India’s richest man wants to step into the breach created by the technology cold war between America and China. The two Silicon Valley tech giants that gave him a third of the money will help put him there.”- Bloomberg Quint.

India’s business tycoon Mukesh Ambani has laid down ambitious plans that are aiming to take on the technology giants Huawei, Tencent and Xaomi along with the retail outlet Alibaba. The global animosity towards China, plans of reviving the global markets and the government’s self-reliant India scheme would serve to promote Reliance-Jio’s audacious but ambitious schemes. “Similar to Alibaba or Tencent which created tech-based eco we find RIL best positioned to create a similar ecosystem in India. In the next two-three years, we expect RIL to have a captive mobile base of over 500 million users.” Said a Bank of America report dated July 16.

While the politicians of many nations including the USA, the UK and India are reluctant to let Huawei Technologies Co. proceed with its 5G network and accuse it of being an instrument of the Chinese state, Ambani’s four year old Jio Platforms Ltd., has built its own indigenous 5G technology, which is being quoted as the “Huawei-Killer” by News18, a media platform also controlled by Mr. Ambani. Jio’s innovation has also attracted the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s applause for being a ‘clean network’ by not using the Chinese firm’s gear. Along with 5G network an assault has also been planned on the handset makers with Alphabet Inc. CEO Sunder Pichai making an appearance in the Reliance Annual General Meeting and pledging $4.5 billion for a 7.7% stake in Jio and a chance to build an Android operating system. The aim is to migrate the 350 million Indians still using feature phones to mobile internet. It will be a threat to Xaomi Corp., one of the leading mobile phone developers in the world. It is also evident that the commerce would be driven by Whatsapp, Facebook’s messaging app that has given Jio $5.7 billion for a near 10% stake. The applications popularity and its ability to handle payments in real time would allow Ambani to make a super-app very similar Tencent Holdings Ltd. app WeChat that would connect brands with customers.

A Business Insider, India report suggests that on combining Asia’s largest companies Alibaba and Tencent we would get something similar to Ambani’s RIL, only much larger in scale.

With the growing technology market accelerated by the need to conduct all businesses from home, it is a very fertile land for Jio to plant the seeds for monopoly in the Indian technlogy market. The banning of mobile applications that have been made in China by the government and the growing anti-Chinese sentiments in India would provide incentives for Indian technology developers to provide the best indigenous substitutes. Google’s plans to invest USD 10 billion in India should facilitate these developments. Jio has already launch Jio-meet, a video conferencing application similar to Zoom, along with other similar apps. With nearly no Indian competition in sight it should not be difficult to imagine Reliance-Jio in control of all major technology services in India. Such a case of market power would require government intervention but keeping an eye on Mr. Ambani’s relations with the government the chances of an intervention are very slim.

Written by: Krishna Kapil Rastogi

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