Google's Chromebook Manufacturing in India

Google's Chromebook Manufacturing in India
Posted on 18-10-2023

Google's Chromebook Manufacturing Boosts India's Electronics Ambitions

In recent news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google's parent company), have discussed Google's plans to establish an electronics manufacturing ecosystem in India. One notable aspect of this partnership is Google's collaboration with Hewlett Packard (HP) to manufacture Chromebook laptops in India. Chromebooks are laptops that run on Google's Chrome operating system and are widely used in educational institutions worldwide, though they have yet to gain significant popularity in India, where Microsoft Windows-based laptops are more common. These Chromebooks are being produced at the Flex facility near Chennai, which has been manufacturing various laptops and desktops since August 2020. Production commenced on October 2, with a focus on meeting the demand, particularly from the education sector, for affordable personal computers in India.

The significance of Chromebook manufacturing in India is multifaceted. It aligns with India's ambitions to bolster its electronics manufacturing sector, positioning Google as a prominent player in this endeavor. As global companies seek to diversify their supply chains due to geopolitical uncertainties, this move is significant. By producing Chromebooks in India, Google aims to compete more effectively with Windows-based computers manufactured by companies like Dell, Lenovo, and Asus.

Local electronics manufacturing is crucial for India for several reasons. It helps India become a potential manufacturing hub, especially as many US companies seek to reduce their reliance on China, which has long dominated global manufacturing. India aspires to become a trusted partner in global supply chains. Additionally, India has witnessed a rise in the import of electronic goods and computers, which is a matter of concern. The Indian government is keen on reducing this dependence, especially on Chinese imports, which constitute a substantial portion of personal computers and laptops.

Regarding the current status, the government's production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, aimed at encouraging laptop, computer, and server manufacturing in India, saw applications from over 40 companies, including major players like Dell, HP, Asus, Acer, and Lenovo. Apple, however, chose not to participate. The government is expected to approve applications from approximately 30 companies, and most of them are likely to commence production from April 2024.

Apart from incentivizing local manufacturing, India has introduced policy changes to discourage imports from China. These changes include initially proposed licensing requirements for the import of laptops and computers (which were delayed due to industry opposition), the introduction of an import management system requiring companies to register and disclose import-related data, and the consideration of a quota system for imports based on a credit formula. The government also aims to encourage companies to source their supplies from "trusted sources" to reduce dependence on Chinese imports.

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