Google to manufacture Pixel smartphones in India

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Google plans to begin assembling its Pixel smartphone lineup in India, a company executive said, becoming the latest tech giant to bet on the South Asian market for devices manufacturing.

The company intends to start the local manufacturing with the current lineup — both  the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro — in India and expects to ship the India-made batch starting next year, Rick Osterloh, Senior VP of Devices and Services at Google, shared at the company’s annual India event Thursday.

India is a key overseas market for Google, which identifies the world’s most populous nation as its largest for many of its services including Android, Google Search, YouTube by user count. Thursday’s announcement follows Google, which has committed to invest over $10 billion in country over the the next few years, recently partnering with HP to manufacture Chromebook laptops in India.

“We are partnering with international and domestic partners to produce Pixel smartphones locally. It’s an early step towards expanding our production here to meet the local demands for Pixel devices and even more importantly it’s a huge step forward in Google’s commitment to India,” he said, without disclosing the names of the partners.

Google’s commitment to manufacturing its smartphones locally in India is also the latest win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has successfully courted many major companies to expand their businesses in the country.

“Mobile manufacturing was practically negligible [in India] nine years back,” said India’s IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw at Google’s event. “Our Prime Minister’s vision of Make-in-India and Digital India, the entire thing has gotten translated to real-action on the ground, and today we have close to $44 billion in mobile manufacturing and exports of mobile phones is at $11 billion. It’s generating huge employment. So I think what Google has announced today is good for Google and good for India.”

Google is the latest tech entrant to make a push to turn India into a manufacturing hub. Apple, whose manufacturing partners began locally assembling iPhones a few years ago, now manufactures the newest models in the country.

New Delhi is actively offering financial incentives worth billions of dollars to attract global companies to establish manufacturing operations in India. The incentives comes at a time when many firms — including Apple — are looking to cut their reliance on China for manufacturing their devices in what analysts often call “China + 1” strategy.

The various incentives the Indian government is offering to companies. Over 670 companies could drive incremental revenue of $455 billion with potential to generate 6.3 million jobs over 5-6 years, Goldman Sachs estimates. (Image and data: GS)

“With India’s growing domestic demand, and government’s focus on local manufacturing including policy support (lower taxes, production linked incentive scheme etc) and export opportunity driven by China + 1 strategy of global players, India’s EMS industry (finished product and electronics manufacturing) is at the cusp of robust medium- term growth,” Macquarie analysts wrote in a recent note, accessed via S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Google said India is also a priority market for Pixel smartphones and the company is increasingly improving its devices customer service experience in the country. Google’s partner F1 Info Solutions has enabled the firm to have 28 service centers across 27 cities in India, Osterloh said.

“From the very onset of our hardware business, we committed to building and investing for the long run. This is an early step in a long journey of expanding our device production capacity and helping meet the country’s growing demand for Pixel smartphones,” he said.

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