How Freedom 251 smartphone shattered common man's dreams
- Freedom 251 took the world by storm with a price tag that read mere ₹ 251.
- The smartphone was marred with suspicion, but many saw it as a sign of changing times in the Indian smartphone market.
- After all that hype, where is Freedom 251? No one seems to know.
Freedom 251 or more popularly known as the ₹ 251 smartphone was the hottest topic of discussion earlier this year. The jaw-dropping price was envied, mocked, look at with suspicion and even appreciated. The price was too good to be true, and the company found itself entangled in controversies day by day. Today, there is no sign of Freedom 251, but we did see the company attempt launching its other products like televisions, which otherwise no one would have cared to report about. With Mohit Goel and his wife quitting, looks like it is the end of Freedom 251 saga.
The rise and the fall of Freedom 251
Freedom 251 gained overnight popularity after its launch event in Delhi. The ₹ 251 price tag was equivalent to a coffee you would pay for in a fancy coffee shop in Bangalore, and buying a smartphone at the same price was something a 'value for money' Indian consumer could quickly relate to. But, government authorities and technology analysts found the price for the said specifications to be too good to be true.
The company was soon pulled up for justifying how it is arranging for funds, and why it is willing to incur losses by selling the smartphone so cheap. MD Mohit Goel and President Ashok Chaddha justified the move by pinning their hopes on Make in India and other digital initiatives by the government. Goel was even cited saying once the smartphones reach people, all doubts would clear.
In the run-up for pre-orders, the website crashed, but in no time the company had registered roughly 5 crore orders. Then began the conundrum with site crashes, PayUBiz not willing to release the money it amassed from users to the company, Ringing bells was accused of delayed payments from the services it has availed to get the site running and answering user queries. The delivery dates delayed from May to June and then July.
The company then said it would deliver only the first 30,000 smartphones and would opt only for Cash on Delivery to gain user confidence. In August we saw Goel deliver a few phones. And, soon demanding help from the government in the form of land and subsidies. The company would hit headlines on and off and was unanimously tagged as a 'scam'.
Trend of cheap phones and how it eventually broke our hearts
While Freedom 251, the smartphone we envisioned would be owned by every Indian, was falling flat on its face, a new crop of super cheap smartphones started appearing. Within six months, there were four other companies all set to sell sub-₹ 1000 phones. We saw the Docoss X1, a 4-inch smartphone with 1.3GHz Cortex A7, 1GB RAM, 4GB onboard storage and 2MP camera priced at Rs 888.
Namotel Acche Din smartphone came with a jaw-dropping price tag of Rs 99. The Ache Din promised claimed to offer specs just like Docoss X1 and Freedom 251, but the price was lower than 1kg dal. And, then the ₹ 8000 ChampOne C1 that the company was willing to sell at a promotional price of Rs 501 was yet another example.
Do you know anyone who owns any of these phones? Well, I don't. In fact, the no-show of ₹ 251 Freedom 251 that had got us all excited has left a bitter-sour taste. The other devices were instantly tagged as scams. No one wasted time visiting their pages and discussing them again. Freedom 251 has ensured we would never trust devices with too-good-to-believe prices again.