New Delhi: Taking the world by surprise, Ringing Bells launched "Freedom 251" smartphone with much fanfare in February.
Touted to be the world's cheapest Rs 251, doubts were raised after assessments of the viability of the handset found that such a device cannot be offered for less than Rs 2,300-2,400.
Displaying the Indian Tricolour when you switch it on, the device has incorporated all the basic Google apps in the handset.
But is Freedom 251 the biggest tech disappointmenat of 2016 making national and global headlines throughout the year?
Tech experts had a fairly different take on it. Faisal Kawoosa, Principal Analyst (Telecoms) at CyberMedia Research (CMR) described the Freedom 251 with a very different outlook.
“I think we could have called it the biggest disappointment only if there had been great expectations attached to it. Every educated person, or those having fair understanding of technology, doubted it. Some may have booked one just out of curiosity but that never meant they took it seriously,” he had said.
Despite the controversies, with some even calling it a scam, the device continued to grab attention from consumers.
On the day 1 of booking, the company's website crashed following 6 Lakhs hits per second while the company managed to get 6 crore registrations in just two days.
A series of complaints were made to the Telecom Ministry against the company. Apart from BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, the Indian Cellular Association (representative of mobile handset manufacturers) had also approached the Ministry asking it to get into depth of the issue.
Though the makers of the smartphone went gaga over being part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s "Make in India" and "Digital India" initiatives in last few days, government clarified that the it has nothing to do with "Freedom 251" smartphone.
In March, the Directorate of Enforcement launched an investigation against Ringing Bells for alleged contravention of FEMA. Besides, the Corporate Affairs Ministry also ordered scrutiny of the company's books.
Around the same time, Noida Police registered a case of cheating against the owner of Ringing Bells who had offered to sell the world's cheapest smartphone following a complaint filed by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya.
A first information report (FIR) was registered last week against Goel and company president Ashok Chaddha under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as the Information Technology (IT) Act. However, they later got interim relief from the Allahabad High Court.
Howver, after a lot of procrastinations, Ringing bells started the delivery of its phones though most people who booked the handset are yet to see one.
Ringing Bells spokesperson had recently said that company is working on improving its reach through distributor networks but did not say a word about Freedom 251`s disappearance.
Following suit, several smartphone makers like ChampOne, Docoss, Kiwo mobile phones forayed into cheapest phone market. These phones too met with similar fate, as most of these gadgets have gone into oblivion.