Google Inc is considering a timeline to assemble its mobile devices in India. Sources privy to the discussion between Google’s executives and Ministry of Communications officials said: “The question is no longer whether Google will or will not but when. It’s a matter of timing now.” The focus in India will be on exports.
The move is significant as Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has publicly stated in response to a question from Business Standard, before Google Inc Ceo Sundar Pichai arrived in India earlier this month, that one key area of discussion would be asking Google to assemble some of its mobile devices under the Pixel brand in India.
A Google spokesperson did not respond to a query on this matter.
The timing is, of course, right. Google assembles most of its Pixel phones in China through Taiwanese giant Foxconn. It has been looking to move some of this production to other countries to mitigate the impact first, of China’s strict lockdowns for Covid-19 and then the abrupt end to this policy by lifting all restrictions which has resulted in millions of infections and production being affected by absent workers sick with the virus. Google has already had a presence in Vietnam for three to four years and is expected to make some of the devices there. According to The New York Times, Google has been looking to shift half its production of the latest Pixel 7 from China to countries such as Vietnam.
In India, experts say Google could leverage the Production Linked Incentive scheme by tying up with Foxconn which has two eligible companies under the scheme for mobile devices.
One is Hon Hai which assembles exclusively for Apple Inc.
The other is Rising Star which has been renamed Bharat FIH. It makes some phones for Xiaomi and assembles all other brands. It has sufficient capacity to do so for Google too.
A Bharat FIH spokesperson declined to comment on the issue. Google also has linkages in mobile devices with Jio Platforms in which it has taken a stake. As part of a comprehensive agreement to help Jio come out with a 4G smart phone based on a new android operating platform, Google helped to make the phone affordable.
Sources say that Google is also planning to do the same for an affordable 5G device. Yet the fact remains that Google is a smaller player in the mobile device space compared with giants like Apple. It does not make any of the top mobile brands in the world.
According to estimates, the company has sold fewer than 30 million phones in the past six years. Technology market analysis firm Canalys says Google had a 2 per cent market share in the US market in Q2 2022. Business Standard