‘Make in India’ has been one of the most important agendas of the current NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and over the last two years, we’ve seen several smartphone manufacturers make announcements around this. Perhaps the biggest development is that Apple is looking to set up its manufacturing unit in Bengaluru, India, a move that could lower the final cost of iPhones here, given that imported goods have a 12.5 per cent duty on them.
Apple CEO Tim Cook met PM Narendra Modi last year to discuss iPhone production in the country. However, reports suggest the Cupertino tech major will have a tough time convincing government officials, thanks to its long list of concession demands.
As The Indian Express had reported, Apple’s application seeks “full duty exemption on manufacturing and repair inputs (raw materials), yield loss on inputs, components, capital equipment (including parts), and consumables for smartphone manufacturing and services/repair for a period of 15 years for both domestic and export markets”.
Plus, Apple will face hurdles setting up component supply chain for raw materials here, given China provides for better infrastructure facilities and cheaper labour. However, if the government agrees to Apple’s demands, it will have to open the same to other foreign companies manufacturing in India as well.
While Indian players like Micromax, Lava, Intex, etc and even South Korea’s Samsung have had a manufacturing/assembly base in India for some time now, we have seen more Chinese companies make such announcements in the last two years. Xiaomi, Gionee, Lenovo, etc are some of the big names that have adopted the #MakeinIndia route and here’s a quick look.
Samsung is one of the largest handset makers in the country. It began its first manufacturing plant in 1997 in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The facility produces smartphones among other appliances. The company manufactures nearly 90 per cent of its mobile phones, including top-end models, in India. It has another manufacturing complex at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, which it set-up in November 2007 for LED TVs, air conditioners, etc.
Xiaomi tied up with Foxconn to manufacture phones at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh’s Vishakhapatnam in August 2015. The Chinese handset maker started with assembling Redmi 2 Prime smartphone maker. The company’s Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime were both manufactured in India. However, despite the ‘Make in India’ card for some of its smartphones, its products go out of stock pretty quickly when they are launched. In March 2016, according to a PTI report, Xiaomi had claimed that 75 per cent of its smartphones sold in the country are made in India, including its popular Redmi Note 3.
In April 2016, LG Electronics announced that it will start manufacturing mobile phones in India. The company had launched its LG K7 and LG K10, which it said would be made in India phones.
Gionee announced its first smartphone F103, also made by Foxconn at Sri City, in October last year. The company manufactures its F and P series handsets in the country, in partnership with Foxconn.
Huawei announced its partnership with Flex to manufacture smartphones last September. The Flex plant in Chennai started manufacturing one model of the Honor smartphone from the first week of October 2016, According to Huawei, the plant will have a capacity of three million units by the end of 2017.
Vivo has a full-fledged 30,000 square-metre manufacturing facility at Greater Noida, which was announced in December 2015. The company has so far invested close to Rs 125 crore in its first phase of investment in the unit and manufactures as well as assembles one million units a month at this plant.
Lenovo and Motorola started manufacturing smartphones in India in August 2015. The two companies have separate manufacturing lines in the same 40,000 square feet factory in Sriperambudur, Chennai. The factory had a capacity of 6 million when it was started. Moto E was the first made in India smartphone by the company. Outside China, this is the only manufacturing facility where both Lenovo and Motorola smartphones are being produced in one facility.
Asus decided to manufacture smartphones in India in partnership with Foxconn at Sri City in October 2015. Asus Zenfone 2 Laser was the first smartphone to be manufactured in the unit. Asus also announced that some phones in its new Asus Zenfone 3 series will be made in India as well.
Of course, Make in India still has a long way to go before it can even remotely match the capacity of China’s organised smartphone manufacturing industry. For a lot of companies, manufacturing is still only assembling smartphones in India, with parts like display, battery, chipset etc being imported in whole. However, with so many companies committing to manufacturing here, there is a strong possibility that a component ecosystem will eventually start taking shape in the coming years.