Indians are known for their affection towards cheap products, affordable if you may. So when Ringing bells, a Noida-based firm, announced that they would be bringing out a smartphone worth INR 251, total chaos ensued, as expected. The promoter of this company goes by the name of CuteMohit on Facebook.
Not that there is a problem with that, but the most bewildering fact is that he managed to get the Indian government onboard his properly executed scam. This made the whole Ponzi scheme seem like a pseudo-government program, where the consumer is made to believe that this whole act is part of the Make In India and Digital India initiatives.
⦁ THY SHALL COMMIT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
Touted to be the world's cheapest smartphone, the Freedom 251 started to dig its own grave once it came into the hands of a few journalists. As we reported earlier, our friends over at Hindustan Times got a hold of the device and saw through the whole deal. Starting off with the software interface, the smartphone seems completely 'inspired' from Apple's iOS - something that is explicitly illegal. To this allegation, Mohit Goel, CEO Ringing Bells, responded saying that Apple had not copyrighted the OS design, which is a highly controversial and incorrect statement to make.
⦁ THY SHALL PUT THOU SECURITY UNDER THREAT
Let's talk about the domain that the company is using to make the sale happen. Registered on the 10th of February, 2016, the website was set up on the 14th and contains code that can be hacked into easily. In fact, a user found out that entering random order numbers after this URL will actually open up the order purchase history, revealing all personal details of the buyer.
Let's just say it isn't e-commerce level encryption. So, the Freedom 251 scam involves duping as well as vulnerability to your personal information, a security threat per se.
⦁ THY SHALL DUPE THE GOVERNMENT
Adcom Ikon 4, did that name ring a bell? That is the smartphone of which the Freedom 251 is a rebranded version. Sold by Adcom, a New Delhi-based importer of Chinese electronic devices, the Ikon 4 has definitely not been 'Made in India'. Although there is no problem with the company selling a rebranded Chinese smartphone, the real problem here is that the marketing done by the firm credits Narendra Modi's Make In India initiative for inspiring the Freedom 251 that is claimed to have been made in and for India.
Let's count the heinous crimes that have been uncovered till now. Ringing Bells can be convicted for copyright infringement, security threat as well as national fraud. All of these lead to serious complications and I haven't even started with the Ponzi scheme yet.
⦁ THY SHALL DUPE THE CUSTOMER
While trying to ordering the Freedom 251 smartphone yesterday, the website refused to load the payment page, after numerous attempts to click Proceed on the Shopping Cart page. A strange thing about this was that you could edit quantities of the device - upto two digits - and it would automatically adjust the final price. If you have had such an experience with other e-commerce sites, you would know that the page needs to be reloaded in order to adjust your real-time update for quantity. The speed of the update here clearly shows that it was indeed a dummy page and the company's claims of '30,000 orders' going though is nothing more than a sham.
THY SHALL DUPE THE COMPETITOR
Duping the government, duping the customer and now this. Great start for a company that is just around 6 months old. A great lesson in business ethics taught by a promoter that has a background of manufacturing agricultural equipment, with no involvement in a technology firm till recently. What device the company showed off at the launch event and sent to most publications is no secret. It was a smartphone on which the Adcom logo was shoddily concealed with the help of a whitener. (I mean are you even trying, mate?).
The back was also conveniently covered with the Indian flag so that no one may attempt to uncover another logo underneath it. The Freedom 251 is a rebranded Adcom Ikon 4, but Adcom denies the involvement. In fact, they believe that they have been kept in the dark by Ringing Bells and are considering a possible lawsuit against the manufacturers of the Freedom 251.
All this goes on to show how halfwits (pun not intended) can fool this nation of a billion people into something so undecorated as a super cheap smartphone. Guess the power of money, or rather saving it, is exactly what makes puts our vulnerabilities in the open.