Google will begin to manufacturing its flagship Pixel mobile phones in India, the company announced on Thursday, announcing a series of initiatives and collaborations that leaned heavily on its new artificial intelligence technologies and its widely popular payments application.
The company’s annual Google for India event also had announcements regarding new security initiatives of the company aimed at the sort of online financial fraud prevalent here, and philanthropic grants for work on misinformation awareness.
The headline announcement, however, was on the company’s decision to take part in the government’s Make in India initiative.
“We’re humbled at how India has embraced our consistent smartphone innovations, and continue to receive heartening feedback from our partners and our growing Pixel family. When we set out with our hardware business, we committed to building and investing for the long run, and our plan to manufacture in India is an early step in the long journey of expanding our device production capacity and helping meet the country’s growing demand for Pixel smartphones,” said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services.
Union minister for electronics and technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, said the decision was “good for Google and good for India” and added that it was reflection of the policies of the government that had put electronics manufacturing on the fast track.
Osterloh, who said the company is partnering with international and domestic manufacturers in India to produce Pixel smartphones locally, added that the company was “proud to be part of government’s make in India”.
Google’s Pixel is the second flagship phone by an American tech giant to be manufactured in India. In August, Apple announced it had begun making its iPhone 15 in India, and for the first time, the locally made devices hit stores on the launch date, along side models made at manufacturing powerhouse regions like China.
The company, which runs one of the largest payment apps via Google Pay — the app has 350 million users, it said — also announced five tie-ups with financial institutions for credit offerings, including to small businesses and for micro-loans of ₹15,000.
“Google is working to enable responsible credit. We are working with trusted partners to create greater, simpler and responsible access to credit,” said Ambarish Kenghe, VP of Google Pay.
Google counts India as a key growth market, where most smartphones run on its Android ecosystem.
Other key initiatives included collaborations with the government-led e-market place ONDC to connect farmer producer organisations — groups such as Nabard — with merchants, and with Axis My India to launch a multilingual mobile application called ‘A’ for citizen information services.
The measures to make lending easier and the support to the A app will include backing by Google’s AI-related offering, which will also be used to make improvements on how its flagship Search product is used.
The Search and Search Generative Experiences (the latter is the AI-enabled version of Google’s eponymous web lookup service) in India will feature more videos and images in overviews, and help people explore places and things to do.
“We, at Google, are very committed to being a trusted, responsible and valued partner in India’s digital transformation journey and in working with the government to drive innovation, improve economic growth, enhance the country’s security, and protect the privacy and safety of the millions of Indians who choose our products and services,” said Sanjay Gupta, country manager and vice president, Google India.