Ranjivjit Singh, senior vice president of Samsung India, speaks to Priya Singh about the brand’s large-scale smartphone manufacturing unit in Noida, which opened in July this year.
In July this year, the South Korean tech brand Samsung opened its new smartphone manufacturing factory in Noida. This facility, the largest Samsung unit in the world, has made India a major player in the global manufacturing scene, and granted Samsung a more immediate access to India’s burgeoning smartphone market. Ranjivjit Singh, senior vice president, Samsung India, speaks to Guardian 20 about the Noida factory, and Samsung’s India strategy.
Q. Tell us about Samsung’s new smartphone manufacturing factory in Noida.
A. The world’s largest mobile factory in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, by Samsung, was recently inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in. We also launched the “Make for the World” initiative, under which Samsung aims to export mobile handsets produced in India, to overseas markets. This factory is a symbol of Samsung’s strong commitment to India. Samsung has been manufacturing mobile phones in India since 2007, and is the only brand that is truly made in India. Last year in June, we had announced an investment of Rs 4,915 crore to add new capacity at the Noida plant, under the Uttar Pradesh government’s Mega Policy. In just one year, the new plant has been readied.
Samsung had set up its first manufacturing facility in Noida in 1996, a year after it entered India. The new factory, spread over 129,000 square metres, will help Samsung meet the growing demand for its innovative products and services across the country and also fulfil Samsung’s goal of making India an export hub for the world. Since its entry into India in 1995, Samsung has consolidated its market leadership in the country with two factories, in Noida and Sriperumbudur near Chennai, five R&D centres and one design centre. These are supported by a strong network of over 1.5 lakh retail outlets and 3,000 customer service points, the largest by any company in the country. We see the new factory as a catalyst for the development of a robust local electronics manufacturing ecosystem.
Q. What makes India a favourable setting for global tech brands like Samsung?
A. Last year, we announced an investment of Rs 4,915 crore and in just one year we set up the world’s largest mobile factory. Our new facility is a symbol of our strong commitment to India and a shining example of the success of government’s “Make in India” initiative. India is now the second largest smartphone market in the world. It is also the fastest growing smartphone market in the world. We not only “Make in India”, but we also “Make for India”. We listen to our consumers and bring India-specific innovations for you. With this new factory, we have taken a gigantic step and announced our new “Make for the World” initiative. Our aim is to export a significant portion of the mobile handsets produced in Noida by 2020. We will continue to seek the government’s support to make India an export hub.
Q. What is the production capacity of this plant?
A. With this new facility, Samsung will double its current capacity for mobile phones in Noida in a phase-wise expansion, from 68 million units a year currently to 120 million units a year by 2020.
Q. Is Samsung manufacturing its flagship phones here as well?
A. All Samsung mobile phones, including flagship smartphones, are made at the Noida plant. As a true market leader, Samsung continues to provide cutting-edge technology and enriching experiences to Indian consumers with its mobile phones made at the Noida plant, supported by a large ecosystem of suppliers in the Delhi-National Capital Region and partners across the country.
Q. Every Samsung smartphone is very well promoted and generates attention even before the actual launch. Do you think over time the brand has become better at predicting what the average smartphone user in India wants?
A. We have always been good at predicting smartphone demand in India. This is the reason why Samsung has been No. 1 in the smartphone space for six years in a row. Samsung has been in India for 23 years and we continue to strive towards enriching people’s lives through meaningful innovations. At Samsung, we try to touch the lives of every Indian, which is why we are one of the most loved and trusted brands in the country. There is a Samsung in the life of every Indian today, be it a television, smartphone, refrigerator, washing machine, AC or a microwave oven. For instance, we recently launched the new Galaxy J8 and J6 smartphones, which have become hugely popular. Galaxy J6 was launched on 22 Mayand Galaxy J8 was recently introduced on 1 July. Both these models have together seen sales of over two million units. Our focused approach towards the Indian market supported by our local R&D initiative “Make for India” has helped us in consolidating our market leadership in the country. We listen to our consumers and our R&D centres in India work on local innovations inspired by insights and needs of consumers in India.
Q. How important is the Indian market for Samsung?
A. India is an extremely critical market for Samsung globally. With two manufacturing units and five R&D centres, India is today the regional headquarters for Samsung’s South West Asia operations.
Q. How is the Noida plant expected to contribute to the region’s job market?
A. With this expansion, we will nearly double our current installed capacity for mobile phone manufacturing in Noida, from 68 million units a year to 120 million units a year by 2020. This will be a phased expansion which will create thousands of jobs in the country, not just at the plant but also in retail, logistics and other areas.
Q. What are the future goals that Samsung India is aiming at?
A. We target to cross $10 billion this year in overall revenues. In 2017, Samsung invested around $15 billion in R&D globally. Our investments in innovation through the decades has given us a legacy of world firsts and we now aggressively working on future innovation areas like making Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G mobile networks a reality, as well as helping develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous driving and connected car technologies. Our aim is to drive the big IoT revolution in India over the next few years. This year we hired 1,000 engineers from top engineering colleges to work on new-age technologies like IoT, AI, machine learning, Natural Language Processing and India-specific innovations. This will be a game-changer. By 2020, all our products globally will be IoT-enabled.