Manufacturing any product is not simple, well, most of them and a smartphone is one of them. So why can’t India manufacture smartphones/mobile phones like China? If we were to ask that question ourselves then we have to dig a little deeper. India has a huge market for smartphones but the devices we use are imported. In some cases, the devices are assembled in India meaning India does only the assembling of the devices with parts imported from other countries where they are actually manufactured. Statistics show that electronic goods we import account for more than 10% of our total imports, these electronic goods include smartphones.
A mobile phone is comprised of so many components, apart from the operating system its hardware which helps the smartphone function as it does including sensors, battery, system on a chip (SoC), modems, camera, memory and storage, and of course the display. Leaving all the components required for manufacturing a smartphone aside except for the chip because it is the single most important entity used in manufacturing a smartphone.
The process of manufacturing a chip goes in the following order:
We have Silica as much as we want but we are yet to manufacture a perfect silicon ingot. The silicon ingot is the first step in chip making, wafers are made from ingots, a wafer is a thin slice of semiconductor used for the construction of integrated circuits. Wafers act as a surface for microelectronic devices built in and upon the wafer. Using wafers chips are made with the help of a lithography machine.
Lithography machine: It is an important equipment used in chip manufacturing. India does not own not even a single lithography machine. The reason is its price, a single lithography machine costs US$ 100 million without including its maintenance costs. These machines are manufactured by a Dutch company called ASML, it owns 85% of the market share worldwide. Almost every smartphone manufacturer buys these machines from this company.
Fun fact: They have to be replaced every year based on the usage.
So, considering this it requires a lot of capital investment in buying and maintaining these machines let alone manufacturing smartphones all by ourselves. Even Apple doesn’t have its own displays, they are bought from Samsung. It is not impossible to manufacture a smartphone, but it is a matter of money.
But, the situation is changing with time. LAVA, is an Indian mobile company that has set up its manufacturing unit in China. Recently after the government has announced incentives for shifting companies from China to India, LAVA announced that they are going to shift their manufacturing plan to India. As we discussed above, a company can dare to buy a lithographic machine that costs around $100 million only when they have a good sale. Mobile companies like Celkon, Karbon, Lava made attempts to conquer Indian markets but failed because of their lame features and Chinese mobile domination.
If at least one Indian made a phone with good features arrive in the market within an affordable cost, people are ready to deny China phones and start using Indian phones.