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Update: Freedom 251 story might be over, the clues are in the Ringing Bells website
Freedom 251, the world’s cheapest smartphone priced at $4 (Rs 251), is supposed to start getting delivered today. But if you go to Ringing Bells’ website, there’s little to inspire faith in these new claims.

The landing page has no mention of Freedom 251. The top six devices mentioned are the new phones, four of them feature phones, all priced between Rs 699-Rs 4999. Yes, this makes you wonder why a company which a Rs 251 smartphone is even making a feature phones that cost Rs 699, almost three times the price of the former.

Meanwhile, the so-called Freedom LED TV is listed as ‘Comming soon’. Remember, the company claims it has 1 lakh units of this cheap Rs 9,990 LED TV in stock. Yet, on the website, it only gets mentioned as ‘Comming’ soon. And clicking on that doesn’t take you anywhere.

Ringing Bells has promised that 5,000 units of the Freedom 251 will be delivered to customers on July 8, followed by a second batch with a similar number of units. This is a far cry from the 2 lakh units of Freedom 251 the company claimed it will deliver. And all indications are that Ringing Bells has shifted focus to other phones now.

Ringing Bells CEO Mohit Goel had promised a ‘lucky draw’ for people who would get the phone at the launch event. The launch event happened yesterday, but not the lucky draw. No surprises there.

Clicking on the products tab on the site shows the list of phones, and it is here you see Freedom 251 hidden away. For a company which rose to fame on the hype around this Rs 251 smartphone, it sure doesn’t want to give much prominence to the product that has created all this buzz.

There’s no option to buy the Freedom 251 and all you can see are the specs, other features highlighted. To be honest, none of this should come as a shock to anyone who has followed this story.

We have noted in several earlier pieces that the Ringing Bells’ story on Freedom 251 has only managed to send alarm bells ringing. The company’s befuddling maths justifying the Rs 251 price tag never quite made sense. Most industry experts agree: the cheapest smartphone with these kind of specs will cost Rs 2,500 to make at least.

Also subsidising the price of this phone would require deep pockets, and given we don’t know how Ringing Bells is financing itself, this is another mystery. Then Mohit Goel, Ringing Bells’ Directory issued a statement saying the company needs Rs 50,000 crore from the government to fulfill all these 7.5 crore orders for Freedom 251.

But it is clear this company has some ambitions in this mobile space, or at least is keen to project them on the website. The Ringing Bells website has a section called ‘Distributors’ where it is claims to be one of the ‘fastest growing smartphone’ companies in India, and points out certain criteria its distributors need to follow.

These are “Minimum floor area required for Ringing Bells store should be more than 500-600 sq. feet for RING BELL priority dealers… The outlet or store should be in high street area like main market, malls etc. Preferably in metros or tier II cities…You will have to keep at least 5 employees for RING BELL priority dealership. Those employee salary would be paid by Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd. and daily expenses would be borne by Franchisee…”

For a brand that is virtually unknown these are pretty high-end demands to make on distributors. And then there’s the fact that in the past Ringing Bells claimed it will subside costs for Freedom 251 by going for an online only model. But if it is indeed looking for distributors, then clearly this ‘online’ model narrative has long been done away with by the company.
If you look at the Ringing Bells website one thing is clear: Freedom 251’s story is over. It’s all about Elegance and Elegant, and nope they won’t cost $4.
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