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Business News/ Companies / News/  Google to flag off Make in India with latest Pixels in 2024
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Google to flag off Make in India with latest Pixels in 2024

Google’s decision to make its smartphones locally follows the start of its Chromebook production in India earlier this month in partnership with HP

(From left) Google’s senior VP Rick Osterloh, Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Google India VP Sanjay Gupta at the Google for India event in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)Premium
(From left) Google’s senior VP Rick Osterloh, Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Google India VP Sanjay Gupta at the Google for India event in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

Google on Thursday said it will start manufacturing its latest Pixel phones in India from next year, becoming the latest global phone maker after Apple and Samsung to build its flagship devices in the country.

The technology giant is keen to support the Make in India initiative and plans to make all its products in India and export them over time, said Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice-president and head of devices and services. The company is already in talks to choose a contract manufacturer, and a decision is likely in the next few months.

“We manufacture around the world and have a diversified manufacturing footprint that we’re expanding into India. We’re starting with the Pixel 8 series and eventually intend to make our entire portfolio here in India. Smartphones now are no longer about just one device. It’s about an ecosystem, and we plan to make all of it available here," Osterloh said at the ninth edition of the Google for India event.

Google’s decision to make its smartphones locally follows the start of its Chromebook production in India earlier this month in partnership with HP.

“Our intent is to manufacture locally for the domestic market, but we’re also looking at expanding that by exporting from here. India is also an enormous market for smartphones, and we want to make sure that we’re as competitive as we can be by making phones locally. This is also an opportunity to diversify our supply chain further," he added.

Osterloh said Google will continue to hire and grow its engineering team in Bengaluru, which was working on product development, besides working on the design of the Tensor chip powering the Pixel 8 series.

Analysts said the move is a plus for the Make In India initiative, but lifting market share will be a challenge if device prices do not come down, despite the advantages of local manufacturing and not paying 20% in import duties.

“Google’s Make in India initiative for Pixel is a strategic move to establish a strong presence in the competitive smartphone market. Ensuring competitive pricing, aggressive marketing, and robust post-sales support are crucial for Google’s future growth in India," said Prabhu Ram, head of the Industry Intelligence Group at CMR. As of August, Google had a 0.3% share of India’s smartphone market, which had risen only marginally from 0.1% in 2022. Ram noted that prudent pricing could help Pixel gain a foothold in the Indian market.

Osterloh added that Google would put its advertising and marketing might behind mainstreaming Pixel phones and growing the business in India at a time when the premium segment of its smartphone market—categorized as devices priced above 30,000—had expanded from being the eighth largest in the world to the third largest in a year. He said local sourcing of components would also rise as more Pixel devices are made locally and that Google planned to help the ecosystem bring this up further.

Telecom and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw welcomed Google’s announcement. “The Tensor chip is being designed in India. We have asked Google to manufacture Tensor chips in an Indian fab within three years. We have also asked them that the premium Pixel Fold phones should also be made in India. Further, provide their support to deepen the component ecosystem supply chain in India," he told reporters.

He added that Google’s other initiative of giving microcredit of amounts up to 15,000 through GPay would augur well for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs), as well as consumers who want to take loans of small amounts, but the current banking system is unable to service them due to high transaction costs. GPay’s credit facility will be able to reduce banks’ costs of finding out the creditworthiness of such borrowers and help them and other financial institutions to provide loans to a larger group of customers.

“Digital credit is a very powerful tool. This will ease access to working capital for a lot of MSMEs, and soon you will see banks competing against one another to give out these kinds of loans. The way we’re talking about digital payments today, by October 2025, we will be talking about digital credit in the same way," he added.

Microcredit through GPay will use artificial intelligence (AI, Google said. The search giant also launched DigiKavach, an early threat detection and warning system designed to identify and study emerging financial fraud patterns before they cause widespread harm, which will be piloted in India before being taken to markets such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Saikat Mitra, Google’s vice-president of head of trust and safety for the Asia-Pacific, said the company was partnering with banks as well as the Reserve Bank of India to block predatory digital lending apps on the Play Store in India. He added that last year, Google had prevented scams worth 12,000 crore on GPay, with over 100,000 suspicious transactions declined every day.

Google Cloud also announced a partnership with Axis My India to launch a multilingual citizen-centric super-app, called “a", that aims to grow people’s awareness, accessibility and utilization of government social welfare schemes, employment opportunities and healthcare benefits.

Google Cloud also expanded its partnership with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to enable farmer-producer organizations to sell their produce online, opening more revenue channels for farmers.

Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, announced grants of over $7 million, including $4 million for cybersecurity advocacy organization CyberPeace Foundation for combating misinformation. A $3.3 million grant was also given to Wadhwani AI to support its effort with the agriculture ministry to apply AI-powered pest management technology to 10 staple food crops and improve agriculture outcomes.

“We at Google are very committed to being a trusted, responsible and valued partner in India’s digital transformation journey and in working with the government to drive innovation, improve economic growth, enhance the country’s security, and protect the privacy and safety of the millions of Indians who choose our products and services," said Sanjay Gupta, country manager and vice-president, Google India.

Google also announced adding a generative AI search experience in India with visual and local capabilities on search called Search Generative Experience. The tool will help users navigate and access critical information about over 100 government schemes in the coming weeks. AI will also be behind improving shopping experiences for consumers and small businesses on Search, as search will throw up more visual options to browse and shop instead of only pages or links.

Separately, YouTube announced that it would roll out a watch page for news across 11 languages in the October-December quarter, which will also provide more visual news sources—content across video on demand, livestreams, podcasts and shorts—as well as more credible news sources by working with news outlets more closely.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gulveen Aulakh
Gulveen covers both corporate and economy, and policy sections of Mint. She also covers telecom, IT from the corporate side and disinvestment, finance ministry from the economy side. Gulveen finds the rare mix of sectors she covers to be incredibly interesting.
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Published: 19 Oct 2023, 11:58 PM IST
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