After Apple Now, Google Wants to Make Smartphones in India

Taking a cue from its rival Apple, Alphabet Inc’s Google is reportedly looking at localizing the production of Pixel smartphones in India. The search giant is reportedly in early discussions with manufacturing plants like Lava International Ltd and Dixon Technologies India Ltd, and Foxconn Technology Group’s Indian unit Bharat FIH to assemble its flagship and affordable Pixel phones locally.

The move would help Google better tap into the smartphone market in the country, which is its most extensive user base outside the US. It could also help diversify the company’s global production portfolio, which is currently largely dependent on China and Vietnam.

According to a report by The Information, Google is planning to solicit bids from manufacturers to produce between 500,000 and 1 million Pixel smartphones in India, which accounts for 10-20% of the phone’s annual production. Despite being among the highest-end Android devices, the Pixel lineup has struggled to find its feet in the Indian smartphone market, dominated by cheaper Chinese smartphones from Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo.

Moreover, the move is in keeping with Google’s larger strategy to leverage India as a growth market. In recent years, it has invested in the country through initiatives like digital payments and infrastructure digitization, highlighting its long-term commitment to the region.

The latest development comes just a month after Indian IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw met with Google parent Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai at the company’s headquarters in California, US. The two discussed several key issues, including India’s efforts to become a global manufacturing hub. Pichai also spoke at length about the importance of India’s technological advancement.

As per reports, Google plans to bring in a specialist team that will work with the assembling companies and oversees operations to ensure quality and compliance. It will be responsible for delivering the promised specifications and lead times to its customers and managing risks and supplier relationships.

The move comes as the Indian government pushes for a more significant share of mobile device production in the country by offering production-linked incentives (PLI) to international tech giants. Among other things, it seeks to promote the manufacture of more high-end smartphones and reduce the dependence on overseas suppliers. It comes amid rising trade tensions between the US and China and frequent COVID-19 lockdowns that have disrupted Chinese production. The initiative will add to the country’s growing list of smartphone producers, including local brands such as Vivo, Xiaomi, and Samsung.

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