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Google CEO Sundar Pichai says smartphones need to cost as little as $30 in India

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Image credit: Android Central)

During a visit to India, Google CEO Sundar Pichai paid a visit to his alma mater, IIT Kharagpur, where he addressed a congregation of over 3,500 students. Speaking at the event, Pichai said that the cost of entry-level smartphones needs to come down to ₹2,000 ($30) to boost adoption in India:

I would love to see cheaper smartphones, entry-level smartphones. I think to really we need to bring the prices down even more, maybe at $30 level (about Rs. 2,000) for India for entry level smartphones.

The country is one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, and with the likes of Jio offering free 4G services, there has been a sharp uptick in smartphone sales in recent months. Google itself rolled out phones in the $100 segment with the Android One program a few years ago, but the company failed to attract any considerable interest from consumers.

Pichai added that local language support is another key area of focus in getting more people online. Although English is one of 22 official languages spoken in the country, its usage is limited to urban centers:

English is spoken only by a small segment of the overall population. So just getting Google to work in other languages is a big focus.We have made progress today in Android, with search, we support many languages but we want to do all that better so that it works even in rural situations with the right dialects and so on.

Pichai also announced the Digital Unlocked initiative earlier this week in Delhi, which sees Google providing free training courses and marketing tools to get local businesses online.

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

14 Comments
  • Ah. Must be the reason why they overpriced the crappy iPixels to no end...
  • +1 Just curious why India is special. ALL smartphones should be cheaper, not just Indian ones.
  • The pixel is not an entry-level smartphone. These would be talking about phones more in line with the Moto E and the Android one series.
  • Just from reading his comment, it doesn't seem like logic is his thing.
  • "need" is a strong word. No one needs a smartphone. If anything, India needs $30 toilets, so the entire nation can stop squatting in the streets.
  • Im guessing smartphones are their gateway to the wider world via the internet, they don't have computers, and can educate themselves via the smartphone and find opportunities to be creative and create jobs. This is the way to economic growth and lifting the country so that they can have an overall better infrastructure, rather than just throwing money and goods at them as a band aid. (not that that can't be a good thing too). However I know nothing about India.
  • OK, $30 for India and no more than $300 in western nations.
  • The price of flagships need to go down across the board. If everyone could keep their current phones and ignore the every year new phone cycle, companies might have to rethink their pricing.
  • This I agree.
  • We need a selection of Android One's here in the States, fully Fi ready.
  • What India needs is for them to stop popping up babies as they already have a HUGE population problem suffering in poverty. They don't need no cell phones.
  • Hahahaha , really?
  • Wowwwww
  • I would like to ask him his view on $30 smartphones that are economically unfeasible to provide security updates/support for at least a 2-3 years? Where it that tradeoff for cheapness versus support. Practically speaking, its a "that's life" situation where the less fortunate are generally less safe in life in general and simply live with more risk. I can see moving that line a bit of - maybe practically speaking, people are fairly secure even if their phone never gets an update. Or is it better to just stick with a cheap dumb phone than an cheap smartphone. I find this sort of practical security tradeoffs discussion very interesting, rather than listening to tech writers just continually, idealistically chastising google for being unable to update every single android-based device in existence forever. (sorry for the rant)