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Apple’s partners and Samsung apply for India’s $6.6 billion local smartphone production program

Posted by | Apple, Asia, Gadgets, hardware, india, oppo, Realme, Samsung, vivo, Xiaomi | No Comments

South Korean giant Samsung, Apple’s contract manufacturing partners Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron, and Indian smartphone vendors Micromax and Lava among others have applied for India’s $6.6 billion incentive program aimed at boosting the local smartphone manufacturing, New Delhi said on Saturday.

The scheme, called Production-Linked Incentive Scheme, will offer a range of incentives to companies including a 6% financial incentive on additional sales of goods produced locally over five years, with 2019-2020 set as the base year, India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a press conference.

22 companies have applied for the incentive program — that also includes manufacturing of electronics components — and have agreed to export 60% of their locally produced units outside of India, said Prasad. He said the companies estimate they will produce smartphones and components worth $153 billion during the five-year duration.

The Production-Linked Incentive Scheme is aimed at turning India into a global hub of high-quality manufacturing of smartphones and support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to make the country self-reliant, said Prasad.

A total of 22 companies have filed their application under the PLI Scheme. These companies will produce mobile phones and components worth Rs 11.5 lakh crore in the coming 5 years out of which products worth Rs 7 lakh crore will be exported. pic.twitter.com/3yUky3HkOC

— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) August 1, 2020

As part of their applications, the companies have also agreed to offer direct and indirect employment to roughly 1.2 million Indians, the Indian minister said.

The interest of Samsung and Apple, two companies that account for more than 50% of the global smartphone sales revenue, in India is a testament of the opportunities they see in the world’s second largest internet market, said Prasad. “Apple and Samsung, India welcomes you with attractive policies. Now expand your presence in the country,” he said.

Missing from the list of companies that the Indian minister revealed today are Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Realme that have not applied for the incentive program.

The Indian government did not prevent companies from any country from participating to the program, Prasad insisted in a call with reporters Saturday noon. Chinese smartphone vendors command roughly 80% of the Indian handset market, according to research firm Canalys.

“We are optimistic and looking forward to building a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating with the global value chains, thereby strengthening electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country,” he said. The deadline for applying to participate in India’s program, which began in April, ended on Friday this week.

The participation of Wistron, Foxconn, and Pegatron is also indicative of Apple’s future plans to produce locally in India. Apple’s contract manufacturing partner, Taiwan-based Wistron, first began assembling older iPhone models in 2017. Last month, Foxconn kickstarted assembly of a small batch of iPhone 11 units. This was the first time any Apple supplier assembled a current-generation iPhone model in the country.

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Huawei overtook Samsung in global smartphone shipments for Q2

Posted by | canalys, hardware, huawei, Mobile, Samsung | No Comments

Things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing for Huawei in recent years. The company’s rapid trajectory has been disrupted by on-going battles with the U.S. government that have, among other things, blocked its access to Google apps and services. But a new report from Canalys paints a reasonably rosy picture as the hardware giant overtook Samsung to snag the top spot in global smartphone shipments for the second quarter of 2020.

The news is a milestone for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this is first time in nine years that neither Apple nor Samsung has been at the top of Canalys’ charts. Huawei’s figures were almost exclusively boosted by sales in its native China, which currently comprises more than 70% of its total figure.

Image Credits: Canalys

It’s important to note here, however, the fact that the company took the top spot by essentially shrinking at a less rapid rate than Samsung. Huawei’s overall figures are down 5% year-over-year. But that figure pales in comparison to Samsung’s 30% drop. The two Goliaths are currently at 55.8 million and 53.7 million, respectively.

Things were bad for the smartphone industry prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped overall, as people are less inclined toward shelling out hundreds to north of $1,000 for inessential upgrades. And, indeed, Huawei’s numbers dropped by 27% outside of China, but the overall slide was dampened by an 8% growth in China. Samsung, meanwhile, currently controls less than 1% of the Chinese market.

As for what this all means for the future, it seems that it may be difficult for Huawei to maintain its top spot. “Its major channel partners in key regions, such as Europe, are increasingly wary of ranging Huawei devices, taking on fewer models, and bringing in new brands to reduce risk” Canalys’ Mo Jia said of the report. “Strength in China alone will not be enough to sustain Huawei at the top once the global economy starts to recover.”

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Apple begins assembling iPhone 11 in India

Posted by | Apple, Apps, Asia, Gadgets, hardware, india, iPhone, iphone 11, OnePlus, oppo, Samsung, TC, vivo, Xiaomi | No Comments

Apple’s contract manufacturing partner Foxconn has started to assemble the current generation of iPhone units — the iPhone 11 lineup — in its plant near Chennai, India, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

A small batch of locally manufactured iPhone 11 units has already shipped to retail stores, but the production yield is currently limited, the person said, requesting anonymity as matters are private. Apple, in general, has ambitions to scale up its local production efforts in India, the person said.

The local production of current iPhone 11 models illustrates Apple’s further commitment to India, the world’s second largest smartphone market, as it explores ways to cut its reliance on China, which produces the vast majority of iPhone models today.

Apple’s contract manufacturing partner, Taiwan-based Wistron, first began assembling older iPhone models in 2017. But until now, Apple has not been able to have an assembly partner produce the current generation iPhone model in India.

Wistron, which has locally assembled older iPhone SE, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models in the past in its Bangalore plant, currently assembles iPhone XR units in India. Apple discontinued the local production of iPhone SE and iPhone 6s last year, the person said.

Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, tweeted on Friday that Apple had begun assembling iPhone 11 models in India. Apple did not comment on this story.

Assembling handsets in India enables smartphone vendors — including Apple — to avoid roughly 20% import duty that the Indian government levies on imported electronics products.

Xiaomi, Vivo, Samsung, Oppo, OnePlus and a range of other smartphone companies have inked deals with contract manufacturers across India in recent years to produce much of their locally sold smartphone units in the country itself.

Xiaomi, which has been the top smartphone vendor in India since late 2018, said earlier this month that nearly every smartphone it sells in India is produced in the country.

Apple has been exploring ways to ramp up its production in India for years, but the company has struggled to find contract manufacturers that adhere to its safety and quality standards, people familiar with the matter have told TechCrunch.

News outlet The Information reported in March that some of Apple’s other contract manufacturers have attempted to enter — or expand in — India, but have run into regulatory and local law issues. Pegatron, another assembly partner of Apple, plans to set up a local subsidiary in India and begin operations in the country, according to Bloomberg.

Foxconn, which counts India as one of its biggest markets, plans to invest $1 billion in its operations in the country, Reuters reported earlier this month. In June this year, New Delhi announced a $6.6 billion plan to attract top smartphone manufacturers.

Apple plans to launch its online store in India in a few months and open its first brick-and-mortar retail store next year, chief executive Tim Cook announced earlier this year. The online store’s launch in India remains on track despite the pandemic, a person familiar with the matter said.

The iPhone maker currently commands roughly 1% of the smartphone market in India, but is among firms that dominate the premium handset segment (phones priced at $400 or above). Apple has also been the least impacted smartphone maker in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Samsung will introduce five new devices at its upcoming Galaxy Note event

Posted by | galaxy note, hardware, Mobile, Samsung | No Comments

August 5 is Samsung’s turn to enter the uncanny valley of live virtual product launches. As the company prepares to take the stage in its native South Korea to launch the Galaxy Note S20. The company’s new smartphone chief TM Roh addressed in a new blog post what a strange time it is to be setting up for a massive product launch, noting, “As leaders of the tech industry, we have a special responsibility – and now a true sense of urgency – to help society continue to move forward. So many people are counting on us to give them new ways to communicate, new ways to work, and new ways to connect.”

Roh’s tenure in the company’s top mobile spot has been defined by the presence of COVID-19, having started the position back in January. It’s understandable that such an address is peppered by references to the pandemic. Next month, Samsung will have the opportunity to define its own virtual presence, following in the footsteps of Microsoft and Apple, who pulled of their respective developer events with varying success.

Samsung is apparently going big for its moment in the spotlight. The executive is promising the launch of five new “power” devices.

“These devices deliver on our vision to be the innovator of new mobile experiences that flow seamlessly and continuously wherever we go,” Roh writes. “They combine power with seamless functionality, whether you’re at work or play, at home or away. In the Next Normal, you will be empowered to live life to the fullest with these devices in your hand (and in your ears, and on your wrist).”

That last parenthetical offers some insight into what we’ll be seeing besides the expected phablet launch, likely pointing to new versions of the Galaxy Buds and a new entry into Samsung’s Galaxy Watch line. For the former, at least, I’m hoping for a new premium tier designed to compete directly with Apple’s AirPods Pro and Sony’s fine fully wireless buds. Another smart guess is the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Roh makes multiple references to foldables in the message, along with 5G, which likely points to more insight into what’s coming August 5.

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India smartphone shipments slashed in half in Q2 2020

Posted by | Apple, Asia, China, coronavirus, COVID-19, Gadgets, Handset, hardware, india, oppo, Samsung, smartphone, vivo, Xiaomi | No Comments

Even the world’s second largest smartphone market isn’t immune to COVID-19.

Smartphone shipments in India fell 48% in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago, the most drastic drop one of the rare growing markets has seen in a decade, research firm Canalys reported Friday evening.

About 17.3 million smartphone units shipped in Q2 2020, down from 33 million in Q2 2019 and 33.5 million in Q1 2020, the research firm said.

You can blame coronavirus, more than a million cases of which has been reported in India.

New Delhi ordered a nationwide lockdown in late March to contain the spread of the virus that saw all shops across the country — save for some of those that sell grocery items and pharmacies — temporarily cease operation. Even e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Flipkart were prohibited from selling smartphones and other items classified as “non-essential” by the government.

The protracted lockdown lasted until mid-May, after which the Indian government deemed that other stores and e-commerce deliveries could resume their services in much of country. New Delhi’s stringent measure explains why India’s smartphone market dipped so heavily.

China, the world’s largest smartphone market, in comparison, saw only an 18% drop in shipments in the quarter that ended in March — the period when the country was most impacted by the virus. In Q1, when India was largely not impacted by the virus, smartphone shipments grew by 4% in the country. (Globally, smartphone shipments shrank by 13% in Q1 — a figure that is projected to only slightly improve to a 12% decline this year.)

“It’s been a rocky road to recovery for the smartphone market in India,” said Madhumita Chaudhary, an analyst at Canalys. “While vendors witnessed a crest in sales as soon as markets opened, production facilities struggled with staffing shortages on top of new regulations around manufacturing, resulting in lower production output.”

Smartphone shipment estimates for the Indian market through Q1 2019 to Q1 2020 (Canalys)

Despite the lockdown, Xiaomi maintained its dominance in India. The Chinese smartphone vendor, which has been the top smartphone vendor in India since late 2018, shipped 5.3 million smartphone units in the quarter that ended in June this year and commanded 30.9% of the local market, Canalys estimated.

With 3.7 million units shipped and 21.3% market share in India, Vivo retained the second spot. Samsung, which once ruled the Indian smartphone market and has made major investments in the country in recent months, settled for the third spot with 16.8% share.

Nearly every smartphone vendor has launched new handsets in India in recent weeks as they look to recover from the downtime, and several more new smartphone launches are planned in the next month.

But for some of these players, the virus is not the only obstacle.

Anti-China sentiment has been gaining mindshare in India in recent months, ever since more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a military clash in the Himalayas in June. “Boycott China” — and variations of it — has been trending on Twitter in India as a number of people posted videos destroying Chinese-made smartphones, TVs and other products. Late last month, India also banned 59 apps and services developed by Chinese firms.

Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, which now assumes the fourth spot in India, and other Chinese smartphone vendors command nearly 80% of the smartphone market in India.

Canalys’ Chaudhary, however, believes these smartphone firms will be able to largely avoid the backlash as “alternatives by Samsung, Nokia, or even Apple are hardly price-competitive.”

Apple, which commands only 1% of the Indian smartphone market, was the least impacted among the top 10 vendors as iPhone shipments fell just 20% year-on-year to over 250,000 in Q2 2020, Canalys said.

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UK U-turns on Huawei and 5G, giving operators until 2027 to rip out existing kit

Posted by | 5g, BT, China, Europe, huawei, Mobile, NEC, Samsung, Security, supply chain, telecommunications, UK government, United Kingdom, United States, zte | No Comments

The UK government has confirmed a widely expected U-turn related to “high risk” 5G vendors linked to the Chinese state — attributing the policy shift to the US recently imposing tighter sanctions on Huawei’s access to its technologies.

UK digital minister Oliver Dowden told parliament the new policy will bar telcos from buying 5G kit from Huawei and ZTE to install in new network builds from the end of this year. While any of their kit that’s already been installed in UK 5G networks must be removed by 2027.

Although legislation to enable the enforcement of the policy has still to be laid before parliament and could face challenges from MPs who want to seek a more rapid removal of Huawei kit.

Yesterday telco BT warned against any overly rapid rip-out of existing Huawei kit, suggesting it could cause mobile network outages, generate security risks and further delay upgrades to the country’s fiber broadband network which the government included in its manifesto. BT CEO Philip Jansen had suggested an ideal timeframe of seven years to remove existing Huawei 5G kit so the government appears to have served up its best case scenario, while still piling additional cost on next-gen network builds.

Dowden conceded that the new policy will also delay the rollout of UK 5G networks but claimed the government is prioritizing security over economic considerations.

“Clearly since January the situation has changed. On the 15th of May the US Department of Commerce announced that new sanctions had been imposed against Huawei through changes to the foreign direct product rules. This was a significant material change and one that we have to take into consideration,” he told parliament.

“These sanctions are not the first attempt by the US to restrict Huawei’s ability to supply equipment to 5G networks. They are, however, the first to have potentially severe impacts on Huawei’s ability to supply new equipment in the United Kingdom. The new US measures restrict Huawei’s abilities to produce important products using US technology or software.”

Dowden said the National Cyber Security Center had reviewed the new US sanctions and “significantly” changed their security assessment as a result — saying the government would publish a summary of the advice that had led to the policy U-turn when challenged on the U-turn by the shadow digital minister.

“Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei’s supply chain the UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment affected by the change in US foreign direct product rules,” Dowden added.

A Telecoms Security Bill had been slated to be introduced before the summer recess but will now be delayed until autumn given the policy swerve.

In terms of costs and time associated with restricting and then ripping out Huawei kit from UK 5G networks, Dowden suggested it would add between two to three years more to 5G rollouts — and cost up to £2BN.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and I must be frank about the consequences for every constituency in this country,” he said. “This will delay our roll out of 5G. Our decisions in January had already set back that rollout by a year and cost up to a billion pounds. Today’s decision to ban the procurement of new Huawei 5G equipment from the end of this year will delay the rollout by a further year and will add up to half a billion pounds to costs.”

The additional set of requiring operators to rip out existing Huawei 5G kit by 2027 will entail “hundreds of millions of pounds” more to their costs.

“This will have real consequences for the connections on which all our connections relay,” he further cautioned, warning against that going any “faster and further” than the 2027 target — saying to do so would add “considerable and unnecessary” additional costs and delays.

“The shorter we make the timetable for removal the greater the risk of actual disruption to mobile networks,” he also said.

It’s a very significant change of government policy vs the package of restrictions announced in January when Boris Johnson’s government expressed confidence it could manage any risk associated with vendors with deep links to the Chinese state.

And Dowden faced a barrage of questions from opposition politicians about the “screeching U-turn” and the associated delays to the UK’s 5G network infrastructure from not having taken this decision six months earlier. 

Shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah said the government’s digital policy lay in tatters — and called for it to set up a multi-stakeholder taskforce to lead the infrastructure charge. “This entire saga has shown that the government cannot sort this mess out on their own,” she said. “We need a taskforce of industry representatives, academics, startups, regional government and regulators to develop a plan which delivers a UK [5G] network capability and security mobile network in the shortest possible timeframe.”

On government backbenches, Dowden’s statement was more broadly welcomed. Although Johnson has faced significant internal opposition from a group of rebel MPs in his own party to his earlier Huawei policy so it remains to be seen whether they can be convinced to back the new package. One rebel MP source, speaking to the Guardian, warned the fight is back on — saying they’ll table amendments to the telecoms security bill to further shrink the timeframe to rip out Huawei kit, including also for 3G and 4G, not just 5G.

On the issue of what’s to be done with kit from high risk vendors that’s in use in non-5G networks, the government sought to slip in another delay today — with Dowden telling parliament the issue “needs to be looked at”, and announcing a “technical consultation with operators to understand their supply chain alternatives”.

“Given there is only one other appropriate scale vendor for full fiber equipment we are going to embark on a short technical consultation with operators to understand their supply chain alternatives. So that we can avoid unnecessary delays to our Gigabit ambitions and prevent significant resilience risks,” he said.

The technical consultation will determine government policy toward Huawei outside 5G networks, Dowden added.

The government has said before it’s taking steps to increase diversification in the supply chain around 5G network infrastructure kit. Dowden reiterated that line today, saying the UK is working with Five Eyes partners to try to accelerate diversification, while tempering the ambition by couching it as a global problem.

Over the longer term he said the UK wants to encourage and support operators to use multiple vendors per network as standard, though again he cautioned that the development of such open RAN networks will take time.

In the nearer, medium term, he suggested other large scale vendors would be needed to step in — saying the government is already having technical discussions with alternative telecoms kit makers, including Samsung and NEC, about accessing the UK market to plug the gap opened up by the removal of Huawei equipment.

“We are already engaging extensively with operators and vendors and governments around the world about supporting and accelerating the process of diversification. We recognize that this is a global issue that requires international collaboration to deliver a lasting solution so we’re working with our Five Eyes partners and our friends around the world to bring together a coalition to deliver our shared goals,” he added.

We’ve reached out to Huawei for comment. Update: In a statement, Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK, told us:

This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider. We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK.

Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about US trade policy and not security. Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better connected UK. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done.

We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain.

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Samsung will reveal the next Galaxy Note on August 5

Posted by | events, galaxy note, hardware, Mobile, Samsung, samsung galaxy note, samsung unpacked | No Comments

Samsung’s next big Unpacked event is scheduled for August 5. As is the trend these days, the unveiling will be online-only, following in the footsteps of big virtual events from the likes of Microsoft and Apple. It’s Samsung’s first crack at the format. The company just made it under the pre-COVID-19 shutdown wire back in February for the Galaxy S20 launch.

Image Credits: Samsung

The headliner of next month’s event will no doubt be the next version of Samsung’s popular phablet line. The Galaxy Note S20 has leaked online a fair bit already, because Samsung. The most notable occasion was the beginning of the month, when the company’s Russia site briefly posted a copper colored version of the Note 20 Ultra. Fittingly, the invite for the event features a copper S-Pen dripping into a big similarly-colored puddle. 

The premium version of the handset sports a folded zoom lens, much like the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Additional leaks appear to confirm some minor changes to the handset’s design, including the swapping of some buttons and moving the S-Pen slot to the left of the charging port. Other details will almost certainly leak out between now and August 5, because that’s just how these things go. There will likely be a slew of other devices on the docket for the event, as well. Samsung likes to pack a lot into Unpacked, after all. Accessories, audio products and wearables are all candidates. 

Notably, Samsung also announced that it will be holding its own virtual event in the early September time frame. The company had initially planned to attend IFA, but ultimately — and understandably — thought better of it. The August 5 event, meanwhile, kicks off at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT. It will be available via Samsung.com

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Global smartphone sales plummeted 20% in Q1, thanks to COVID-19

Posted by | Apple, coronavirus, COVID-19, gartner, hardware, huawei, Mobile, oppo, Samsung, smartphones | No Comments

More dismal numbers confirm what we already knew: Q1 2020 was real rough for an already struggling smartphone category. Gartner’s latest report puts the global market at a 20.2% slide versus the same time last year, thanks in large part to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every single one of the global top-five manufactures saw large declines for the quarter, save for Xiaomi, which saw a slight uptick of 1.4%. The Chinese handset maker got a surprise bump, courtesy of international sales. Samsung and Huawei and Oppo all saw double-digit drop-offs at 22.7%, 27.3% and 19.1%, while Apple declined 8.2%. Other companies combined for a sizable 24.2% loss for Q1.

The reasons are ones we’ve gone over several times before, nearly all pertaining to the global pandemic. Chief among them are global stay at home orders and general economic uncertainly. Issues with the global supply chain have no doubt been a factor, as well, as Asia was the first to get hit with the virus.

All of this comes in addition to an already plateauing/declining smartphone market. Analysts had expected that the arrival of 5G would help stem the tide a bit — but, well, some stuff happened in there. Notably, Apple’s slide wasn’t as bad as it might have been thanks to a strong start to the year.

“If COVID-19 did not happen, the vendor would have likely seen its iPhone sales reached record level in the quarter. Supply chain disruptions and declining consumer spending put a halt to this positive trend in February,” Gartner’s Annette Zimmermann said in a release. “Apple’s ability to serve clients via its online stores and its production returning to near normal levels at the end of March helped recover some of the early positive momentum.”

Overall, I suspect that recovery won’t be instantaneous for the market. The future of COVID-19 still feels largely uncertain as countries have begun the process of reopening, and a pricey investment still may not be in the cards for many who are struggling to make ends meet. 

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Top members of Google’s Pixel team have left the company

Posted by | Android, computing, Google, Google Pixel, hardware, huawei, imaging, Mobile, mobile phones, Motorola Mobility, nexus 5x, Personnel, PIXEL, Pixel 2, pixel 3, rick osterloh, Samsung, smartphone, TechCrunch | No Comments

Key Pixel team members Marc Levoy and Mario Queiroz are out at Google. The departures, first reported by The Information, have been confirmed on the pages of the former Distinguished Engineer and Pixel General Manager, respectively.

Both members were key players on Google’s smartphone hardware team before exiting earlier this year. Levoy was a key member of the Pixel imaging team, with an expertise in computational photography that helped make the smartphone’s camera among the best in class. Queiroz was the number two on the Pixel team.

The exits come as the software giant has struggled to distinguish itself in a crowded smartphone field. The products have been generally well-received (with the exception of the Pixel 4’s dismal battery life), but the Android-maker has thus far been unable to rob much market share from the likes of Samsung and Huawei.

The Information report sheds some additional light on disquiet among the Pixel leadership. Hardware head Rick Osterloh reportedly voiced some harsh criticism during an all-hands late last year. It certainly seems possible the company saw fit to shake things up a bit, though Google declined TechCrunch’s request for comment.

Breaking into the smartphone market has been a white whale for the company for some time. Google has explored the space through its Nexus partnerships, along with its short-lived Motorola Mobility acquisition (2012-2014). The Pixel is possibly the most successful of these projects, but Google’s struggles have coincided with an overall flattening of the market.

The company did find some success with last year’s budget Pixel 3A. The followup Pixel 4A was rumored for a late May launch, though the device has reportedly been delayed.

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Xiaomi, Samsung and others begin to resume smartphone production in India

Posted by | Apple, Asia, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid19, Foxconn, Gadgets, hardware, oppo, Samsung, vivo, wistron, Xiaomi | No Comments

Xiaomi, Vivo, Samsung, Oppo and other smartphone companies have received approval from some state governments in India to partially resume manufacturing and assembling of devices amid the ongoing lockdown in the world’s second largest handset market that completely shut operations at these plants in late March.

The companies said that they have secured permission to kick start their manufacturing operations in the country, though several restrictions such as operating with limited workforce are still in place. (The federal government allowed the resumption of smartphone production earlier this month, but state governments have the final say on whether the local conditions are safe enough to enforce the relaxation.)

New Delhi’s decision comes days after it extended the lockdown by two weeks earlier this month but eased some restrictions to revive economic activity that’s been stalled since the stringent stay-at-home orders were imposed across the nation in late March.

Earlier this week, the government permitted e-commerce firms and ride-hailing services to resume services in green and orange zones, districts that have seen less severe outbreak of the coronavirus, across the country. Green and orange zones account for 82% of India’s 733 districts.

Xiaomi, which launched a range of gadgets in India today including its Snapdragon 865-powered Mi 10 smartphone, said earlier this month that it only had inventory to meet demand for up to three weeks.

Manu Kumar Jain, a VP at Xiaomi who oversees the Chinese firm’s business in India, said today that the company, which has been the top smartphone vendor in the country for more than two years, would restart operations in its contract partner Foxconn’s facility in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

A person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that Wistron, a contract partner of Apple, has started limited operations for the iPhone-maker in Bangalore.

Vivo, the second largest smartphone vendor in India, said the company will resume production at 30% of their capacity. “We shall begin production with around 3,000 employees,” a Vivo spokesperson said.

Like Vivo, Oppo will also resume production at its Greater Noida facility with around 3,000 employees who would work in rotation, it said. Samsung, which opened the world’s biggest smartphone factory in India in 2018, said it will restart production in that factory.

“On Thursday, the factory started limited operations, which will be scaled up over a period of time. Employee safety and well-being remaining our absolute priority, we have ensured that all hygiene and social distancing measures are maintained at the premises, as per government guidelines,” said a Samsung spokesperson.

The coronavirus outbreak has severely disrupted several businesses. India did not see any handset sale last month, according to research firm Counterpoint. Counterpoint estimated that the smartphone shipments in India will decline by 10% this year, compared to a 8.9% growth in 2019 and 10% growth in 2018.

Every top smartphone maker in India has either established its own manufacturing plant or partnered with contract vendors to produce units locally in recent years to avail the tax benefits that New Delhi offers.

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