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Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday said the company continues to engage closely with partner Jio on the initiative of building an affordable smartphone and that work is underway on the project.

"We are focused on building an affordable phone... we are committed to making progress on the project and we are working with them (Jio)," Pichai said in a virtual conference with select reporters from Asia Pacific, as reported by news agency PTI. He, however, did not divulge other details, including possible launch date and pricing.

Google had picked up a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms for 33,737 crore last year and had also entered into a commercial agreement with Jio Platforms to jointly develop an entry-level, affordable smartphone.

Google's investment in Jio Platforms was part of 'Google for India Digitisation Fund' that was announced last year. In July last year, Pichai had unveiled plans to invest 75,000 crore (USD 10 billion) in India over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in the country.

"Google is also looking at new opportunities to deploy funds from its USD 10 billion India Digitisation Fund (IDF), and will make some announcements later this year," Pichai said on Thursday.

Talking about the impact of COVID-19 on these projects, Pichai said the pandemic has highlighted the importance technology plays in people's lives.

"...We realise the importance technology plays, and be it building products like Google Meets or working to make sure all of this works well on their (telecom operators') networks, and bringing more affordable access to smartphones and computing, it's just deepened our efforts there," he said.

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