Market forces of demand and supply proved to be fickle yet again as Noida-based Ringing Bells launched Freedom 251, world’s cheapest smart phone, costing just Rs 251. The victim this time happened to be the good old shagun envelope, which has been a humble witness to diverse Indian ceremonies since centuries, weddings being the most notable of them. And the reason, according to experts, is not the low cost of the phone, but that extra one rupee.
“The charm of Freedom 251 might not have been this high if the phone cost, let’s say, Rs 250. The extra one rupee has made the cost figure all the more auspicious. You see, a large number of people belonging to the middle class, who are unable to figure out if the newly-wed couple would like orchids or roses, prefer to give a decent and traditional cash amount of Rs 251, wrapped in a shagun envelope. Now, Freedom 251 has given them another way to part with the same amount of money. Plus it has given them a feeling that they are respecting both technology and tradition. One stone and two birds!” says M Trehan, a leading economist.
As the advance booking list for Freedom 251 gets longer, stocks of shagun envelopes in different colours and designs are piling up at general stores around the country. The small shop owners are apparently shocked at the rather meritorious reasons some customers have come up to support their new choice.
“The name of the set is Freedom. And it becomes a clever act of irony when I gift a so-named mobile to someone who is getting married. And god, I love irony!” winks Anhad Sen, a young, aspiring poet.
The handset has also struck a chord with the grand old citizenry of the country. They feel the name of the manufacturer, Ringing Bells, sounds like a good omen for the new couple, since it rhymes with the expression Wedding Bells.