Samsung Electronics plans to start making laptops in India next month, two people aware of the development said, providing a boost to the government’s push for domestic production through a mix of financial incentives, tax breaks and import curbs.
The company’s Greater Noida factory, now dedicated to mobile phone production, has been expanded to house a new laptop manufacturing unit with an annual capacity of producing 60,000- 70,000 units.
“Samsung will start to make laptops here. The Noida plant, the company’s largest mobile phone manufacturing factory, will house the additional lines that will be used for making laptops,” one of the people said, asking not to be named.
A second person, also seeking anonymity, said the new facility is set to begin operations next month, albeit at a limited capacity. “About 60,000-70,000 units are likely to be made. That’s the annual capacity,” the person added.
The South Korean electronics company is set to become the earliest foreign hardware maker without a local laptop manufacturing capacity to initiate production after the government proposed measures to curtail imports of laptops, tablets, personal computers (PCs), servers and ultra-small form factor devices, starting from November 2024, to cut India’s dependence on exports, especially from China.
The laptop manufacturing capacity entails an investment of about ₹100-200 crore, the person added. Queries sent to a spokesperson for Samsung India remained unanswered till Monday evening.
The ministry of electronics and information technology (IT) and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the ministry of commerce will set up an import management system to begin registering companies that import IT hardware, including laptops and servers, from 1 November and require them to reduce their imports by imposing annual quotas. Mint reported on Friday that the government will allow a certain number of products to be imported every year, which will be curtailed each year. The restrictions will be reviewed after six years.
Alongside imposing restrictions, the government is providing incentives worth ₹17,000 crore through a production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme for IT hardware over five to seven years.
Samsung India did not participate in the IT hardware PLI scheme, which closed at August-end, according to data made available by the IT ministry. Samsung already makes several of its consumer goods in India and has its largest mobile phone manufacturing facility also housed here, which it began constructing in 2017 with an investment of nearly ₹5,000 crore.
Industry experts said Samsung’s local production plans would remain small compared to rivals such as HP, Lenovo and Dell, the top three companies in the Indian laptop market.
“Samsung is a very small player in PC/notebook. It has invested in local assembly of tablets and smartphones, but assembly of notebooks isn’t a feasible business for them at this point in time,” said Navkendar Singh, associate vice-president at International Data Corp (IDC) India.
He, however, added that HP, Lenovo and Dell, which were already making large numbers of laptops in India, were set to expand as they were applicants under the PLI scheme, and others may follow suit, leading to a higher share of local production and consequently lower imports.
“The share of imports is, however, going down as Lenovo and Acer have been pushing local assembly since the last few quarters, and others will soon follow suit,” Singh said.
Approximately 83-85% of laptops, valued at about $8 billion, sold in the country are currently imported. The only challenge will be India’s PC market, including laptops, which has declined for the past four quarters since April 2022. About 4.5 million units were sold in the six months to 30 June, according to IDC India data, compared to the 10-11 million units sold in 2022. LiveMint