Google to assemble Pixel phones in India from 2024

Google announced efforts to make its AI products available in more Indian languages, and measures to harden protections against financial fraud during its annual Google for India.

October 19, 2023 04:34 pm | Updated 06:35 pm IST

Alphabet Inc’s Google will start manufacturing smartphones in India and its flagship Pixel 8 will be available next year.

Alphabet Inc’s Google will start manufacturing smartphones in India and its flagship Pixel 8 will be available next year. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Google, Inc. set a 2024 target to assemble its Pixel line of smartphones in India, the firm announced at its annual Google for India event on Thursday. Executives sidestepped questions on where the assembly would take place, and how much sourcing of components would be done locally, saying that negotiations with assembly partners had not concluded yet. For the moment, the phones it assembles in India will be for the local market, Rick Osterloh, the firm’s Vice President for Devices and Services said. 

The tech giant also touted efforts to use generative Artificial Intelligence technologies to provide more local language support to its services, and announced a partnership with Axis My India to provide information on Government schemes in multiple languages. It also announced new partnerships in micro-lending to provide small businesses with easier loans and ‘sachet’ repayment options.

The company said that it was firming up protections against financial frauds, saying it was engaged with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on the issue. The NPCI is the association of banks in India that administers the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), on which payment apps like GPay and PhonePe run. 

The company has been under pressure to limit the scourge of fraudulent digital lending apps, with the RBI and the Union Government taking notice of people taking out predatory loans. Saikat Mitra, Google’s Head of Trust & Safety for Asia Pacific, said in response to a question that the growth in digital financial frauds was outpacing new internet users coming online, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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“Roughly there has been a trend, that cybersecurity threats have gone up significantly,” Mr. Mitra said. He pointed out that solving the issue of frauds was critical, due to the large number of new internet users — almost a billion Indians may go online by 2025, Google said, citing research by the firm Kantar. If these users fall prey to scams, they may lose trust in the internet, he said. 

The company may roll out the DigiKavach system, as it calls its framework against cyber frauds in India, in other countries. Mr. Mitra said that this may even happen “faster than I’d have loved,” saying Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia were confronting similar upticks in financial fraud.

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