Google eyes moving some Pixel smartphone manufacturing to India, report says

Google is eyeing moving some production of its Pixel smartphone lineup to India, according to a report, the latest in a series of phonemakers with growing ambitions to locally assemble their handsets in the world’s second largest market.

The Android-maker has solicited bids from manufacturers to assemble between 500,000 and 1 million units of the Pixel smartphone, The Information reported Monday. The proposed bid accounts for Pixel’s 10-20% of annual production, the report added.

If Google moves ahead with the plan, it signals the company’s growing commitment to its smartphone business. It will also likely help the company improve the sales of Pixel smartphones in the country, which is the company’s largest market by users and where it has committed to spend $10 billion over the course of a few years.

Google has skipped launching the flagship versions of its phone in India for the past three years, instead focusing on serving the market with the mid-range a-series lineup. By locally producing the phones in the country, it will be able to avoid the heavy import duty New Delhi currently levies on its smartphones. Moreover, the Indian government also offers a range of incentives to firms locally producing hardware in India.

Google declined to comment. The company hasn’t taken a final call on moving some Pixel manufacturing to India, the report cautioned.

Like Apple, Google has also been moving some of its manufacturing efforts outside of China. Nikkei Asia reported that Google was also planning to move some Pixel manufacturing to Vietnam.

Google’s rival, Apple, began assembling iPhones in India five years ago and is expected to start producing the iPhone 14 lineup in the country later this year. Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo and Vivo — phonemakers that currently lead the market in India — have been locally producing smartphone lineups as well as a range of other gadgets in the country for several years.

India is the second largest smartphone maker. Over 120 million smartphone units go on sale in the country each year and the nation’s smartphone install base has exceeded 600 million, according to research firm Counterpoint.