Google To Manufacture Pixel Smartphones In India – Report

Alphabet’s Google division has reportedly instructed its smartphone suppliers to begin making its Pixel smartphones in India by the next quarter at the earliest.

Nikkei Asia, citing one person with direct knowledge of the matter, reported that the move to India is part of Google’s determination to further diversify its supply chain away from China and exploit the booming Indian smartphone market.

The move comes after rivals such as Apple, Samsung and others have being busy transferring some of their respective smartphone production lines to the large South Asian country.

Image credit: Pexels

India move

According to the Nikkei Asia report, Google’s India move is part of an ambitious target of shipping more than 10 million Pixel phones this year.

In 2023 Google had for the first time shipped around 10 million units, despite the global economic slowdown, a source told Nikkei Asia.

Multiple sources also reportedly stated that Google will first prepare the production line for its high-end Pixel 8 Pro in the southern part of India in the coming weeks, then begin turning out phones in the April-June quarter.

This will be followed by production of the Pixel 8 in the north of the country around the middle of this year, the sources reportedly said.

The report also indicates that India has a number of emerging smartphone manufacturing hubs in both the north and south of the country, thanks to smartphone firms such as Apple, Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi bringing several assembly and component suppliers into India in recent years.

According to the Nikkei Asia report, while Google’s India Pixel production will begin with a small volume, the move marks a crucial shift in the supply chain strategy for the company, which has already had suppliers making its phones in Vietnam for years amid an escalating tech war between Washington and Beijing.

Previously, the majority of Google’s Pixel phones were produced in China.

Important market

“Google is not the only tech company that started to look for a ‘China+2’ strategy. That means diversifying away from China into another place is not enough, but suppliers should have multiple non-China options for better supply chain resilience,” one of the sources was quoted as saying.

In June 2023 it was reported that Google was scouting for local suppliers to move some Pixel production and assembly to India.

According to this week’s Nikkei Asia report (citing IDC data), India is becoming an increasingly important smartphone market, after growing 1 percent on the year to 146 million units in 2023, with the pace of growth in the second half of the year hitting 11 percent versus the previous year.

That compares with a 4.7 percent overall decline in the global smartphone market in 2023.

China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, saw a 5 percent drop last year, IDC’s data reportedly showed.

“Google reached a milestone last year for its Pixel phones and it has set an ambitious goal of [shipping] another 10 million units in 2024,” another source with direct knowledge told Nikkei Asia.

Diversifying strategy

Google is not alone in diversifying some of its manufacturing away from China.

It was back in September 2022 for example when Apple said it had begun manufacturing some of its iPhone 14 handsets in India, soon after the launch of those handsets.

That move came as tech manufacturers explore alternative production sources away from China, amid Beijing’s ongoing geopolitical tensions with Western nations, coupled with its pandemic restrictions that for a time had disrupted supply chains for many industries.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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