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Google’s smartphone tie-up with Ambani hits a supply chain snag

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s plan to conquer the Indian market with a locally assembled Google-powered smartphone is facing headwinds, with supply-chain disruptions and rising component prices suppressing production volumes, people familiar with the matter said.

Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd

NSE -1.71 %. originally envisioned sales in the hundreds of millions in the first years for the inexpensive device but now targets a small frac ..

Engineers at Reliance and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have combined forces to tailor a device for the technology-hungry but price-sensitive country whose internet users are expected to surpass 900 million by 2025. They’ve created a hardware design and a version of the Android operating system that can deliver a high-end experience without expensive materials, according to the people. But sourcing the components has proved a hurdle after the coronavirus pandemic boosted demand for electronics globally ..

Cultural differences at Reliance and Google have also surfaced during the process, with the Indian company relying on a top-down operating model while the U.S. engineers are more self-directed, the people said. That’s resulted in last-minute decision making and calls in the middle of the night, in contrast to Google’s usual preference for planning things months in advance.

Reliance and Google started the project after the companies struck a broad alliance last July. For about nine months, Google engineers in Silicon Valley have worked on the challenge of delivering a premium software experience at a previously-unseen price. The team is trying to make the operating system more responsive and resilient to crashes with more frugal hardware. This is a familiar effort for the company, which has had several prior initiatives for making Android friendlier to more basic d ..

Ambani has drawn more than $20 billion in investments from U.S. giants including Facebook Inc., Google and Qualcomm Inc. to bolster his technology presence. Beside the new smartphone, he is set to give an update this month on collaborations with Qualcomm and Facebook’s WhatsApp on 5G and e-commerce.

Source: ET Markets.

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