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Google plans to make flagship smartphones in India

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Google plans to manufacture its flagship Pixel 8 smartphone in India, CEO Sundar Pichai said Thursday, joining a growing list of global tech companies limiting their supply chains' dependence on China.

Pichai's announcement follows US tech rival Apple's release last month of its latest iPhone, including units made in India, as tech giants target the South Asian nation's fast-expanding market and abundant supply of cheap skilled labour.

"We shared plans at #GoogleforIndia (event on Thursday) to manufacture Pixel smartphones locally and expect the first devices to roll out in 2024," Pichai said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Pichai added that Google appreciated the "support for Make in India" -- a flagship policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, offering faster Business clearances and financial incentives for manufacturing goods in the country.

New Delhi has ramped up its production and exports of mobile phones and other electronic goods since the scheme was introduced.

India's mobile phone exports almost doubled to $8.5 billion year-on-year in 2022-23, according to official figures.

Google senior vice president Rick Osterloh said the firm sees "an even greater opportunity to make Pixel smartphones available to more people" in India.

"In recent years, India has established itself as a truly world-class hub for manufacturing, resulting in a thriving environment for businesses to flourish," Osterloh said in a statement.

The company intended to "start with the Pixel 8, and will partner with international and domestic manufacturers to produce Pixel smartphones locally", he added.

Read also: Google launches Pixel 8, smartwatch with new AI feature

India, home to the second-highest number of smartphone users after China, has set a target of producing about $300 billion worth of local electronics and smartphones by 2025-26.

Google already has significant investments in the country and also partnered with Reliance Jio, owned by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, on a 4G-enabled, low-cost smartphone for the local market.

Earlier this year, Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, the world's biggest contract electronics manufacturer and a principal assembler of iPhones, bought a huge tract of land on the outskirts of India's tech hub of Bengaluru.

It was seen as a part of Apple's push into India -- the world's most populous and fastest-growing major economy -- and its efforts to diversify production away from China.

Electronics giant Samsung also runs the world's largest mobile phone factory on the outskirts of New Delhi with a capacity of about 120 million units per year.

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