KOLKATA: Google has for the first time formalised a sharp India-focused strategy to roll out consumer products, which may include a mid-range smartphone, and market them aggressively to take on rivals such as Apple, Samsung and Amazon, four senior industry executives said.
California-based Alphabet, the parent company of Google, will launch its smart speakers, premium laptop Pixelbook, and intelligent home automation products, and is even planning a mid-range smartphone especially for markets such as India, the executives said. The company will also expand distribution into general trade and spend big on marketing like Apple and Samsung have been doing in India, they said.
Google’s top brass shared details of its consumer products expansion plans in trade meets held in Malaysia, the UK and the US last month. Select Indian retailers took part in some of the meets. “Google is excited about expansion of the consumer products business in India with the advent of cheap 4G internet led by Reliance Jio and other operators which it says will help to realise maximum potential of these products,” said a leading retailer who had participated in the meet.
An email sent to Google remained unanswered as of press time Sunday. The company’s PR agency in India said it has nothing to share at the moment. According to the executives cited earlier, Google plans to roll out its smart speakers Google Home and Google Home Mini, which compete against Amazon’s Echo speakers, in India by the end of this month. It will undertake a big advertising campaign for this, they said.
Google plans to launch a mid-range Pixel smartphone focused on price-sensitive markets such as India around July-August, and its next flagship Pixel smartphone may hit the market around Diwali, they said. The $110-billion technology giant is also exploring launch of its premium laptop Google Pixelbook, intelligent home automation products such as doorbell, camera, alarm system, and smoke detector, sold under the Nest brand, and its Wi-fi system Google WiFi in the Indian market over the next one year, the executives said. One of the retailers who attended Google trade meet said the internet giant does not plan to become over-aggressive to chase market share in the consumer products space; instead, it first wants to have a sizeable retail presence in the country and build the brand.
The company is expected to price Google Home and Google Home Mini smart speakers at `9,999 and `4,499, pitching them at par with Amazon’s Echo range, the executives said. However, the Google product will support Hindi and ten other regional languages in the country, they said. Currently, Google sells its Pixel 2 and Pixel smartphones, priced at around `40,000 to `70,999, streaming devices Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, and virtual reality device Google Daydream View in the country.
Industry executives said regular availability of these products in India has been a challenge, which the company has assured will be corrected. “Their hardware distributor Redington will expand brick-and-mortar distribution reach,” one of the executives said. “Google will also do in-store branding and signage in selected stores, and set up exclusive zones with speciallydesigned fixtures like Apple,” the person said.
Google’s expansion into neighbourhood mobile phone stores was decided after it found that these stores account for 36% of Pixel sales in India, next only to ecommerce that accounts for 38% of sales. Large retail chains account for 26% of sales, the executives said. However, company executives were largely mum when retailers had asked about plans to open either company-owned or franchised exclusive stores in the country.
“They said no decision has been taken regarding this,” said a retailer who attended one of the trade meets. “But they certainly want to expand their offline presence since most of the upcoming products require consumer experience.”