Google, under Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O), is set to begin smartphone manufacturing in India, with the flagship Pixel 8 expected to be available next year. This move aligns with the growing trend of global companies establishing manufacturing facilities in the South Asian nation.
At the Google for India event, Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Devices and Services, disclosed that Google would collaborate with both international and domestic manufacturers to locally produce smartphones.
Osterloh emphasized that India is a top-priority market for Pixel smartphones, and Google is dedicated to delivering the best of its hardware and integrated software features to people across the country. While immediate details regarding the number of smartphones to be manufactured and the factory locations remain undisclosed, Google also revealed plans to enable users to book metro tickets directly from the Google Maps app.
Google, which operates one of the largest payment apps through Google Pay, announced a partnership with the Indian non-bank lender, DMI Finance, offering small loans to merchants, beginning at 15,000 rupees ($180). In addition, Google Pay, which has existing collaborations with numerous lenders, will introduce credit through the UPI (Unified Payments Interface) in association with major banks. This move comes at a time when the demand for small personal loans in India is on the rise, a trend that has raised concerns for the Indian central bank.
India holds a crucial position in Google’s growth strategy, particularly given that most smartphones in the country operate on the Android ecosystem. However, Google faces business and regulatory challenges in India, including legal challenges from startups and companies like Disney concerning in-app policies and antitrust issues, particularly related to its position in the Android market.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently welcomed Google’s plans to establish a global fintech operations center in the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), as discussed during a virtual meeting with Alphabet’s Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai.
India is increasingly viewed as a promising growth market by global corporations, with Apple (AAPL.O) projected to capture 7% of all smartphone sales in the country from July to December. Memory chip manufacturer Micron Technology (MU.O) also recently announced plans to establish its first semiconductor plant in India.