The Freedom 251 smartphone, came with a lot of vigour, energy and extreme expectations. For a phone selling at a price of Rs 251, making it cheaper than a Nokia 3310 handset and selling it in a country of over 1.2 billion was bound to make startling headlines. Quite predictably on the 18th February, which was the first day of the online sales, the company servers crashed.
Over the next few months, the company Ringing Bells has claimed to have sold phones worth Rs 1.75 crores. Ringing Bells started with the delivery of 5,000 units of Freedom 251 and then by August 3rd sent some 65,000 more. However, it is hard to see anyone coming up and saying that they own a Freedom 251 phone. The company also never promised to deliver all the registered users the handset.
Ringing Bells CEO Mohit Goel took help from PM Narendra Modi in an effort order to deliver all 7.5 crore units that were registered of Freedom 251. Goel demanded Rs 50,000 crore from the government under the Digital India initiative in a letter to Modi.
With a material cost which the company claimed to be Rs 1,250- 1,400, the Freedom 251 was bound to cause incredible losses to the makers. So much so that the Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya, has stated that the phone is bogus and the promotion is a Ponzi scheme to loot the common public.
The phone was reportedly looking like a Chinese phone with whitener covering the brand label. The icons which were displayed were a copy from Apple’s iPhone. There are also reports that many people ordered the phone but did not even receive a confirmation email.
Soon, Ringing Bells CEO Mohit Goel was arrested, which didn’t really come as a surprise.
After the debacle, the company has also promised a set of devices like the Freedom HD LED TV priced at Rs 9,990 in early July 2016, new phones called Elegant and Elegance and also power-banks which would cost Rs 399.