Sony Corp is back to manufacturing in India after more than a decade. The Japanese consumer electronics major has entered into an agreement to manufacture its Bravia line of televisions at Taiwanese contract manufacturer major Foxconn’s plant near Chennai. It is also evaluating the possibility of making smartphones in the country and may eventually set up its own plant in India, Sony India managing director Kenichiro Hibi said.
“The government’s ‘Make in India’ policy and the growing importance of India for Sony worldwide has accelerated our decision to manufacture in India once again,” Hibi. “Local production will help us to be more competitive, lower costs and allow faster turnaround time to launch newer models,” he said.
India is the fourth-largest market for Sony, after the US, China and Japan. Sony India clocked Rs 10,600 crore sales in 2014-15, with televisions and smartphones contributing 40 per cent each to its revenues. Sony is initially manufacturing two 43-inch models running Google’s Android operating system at the Sriperumbudur plant of Competition Team Technology (India), a subsidiary of Foxconn. The first shipment will commence from Tuesday itself. The production line will soon be expanded to include 22-43 inch screen televisions.
“While at present, all production will be for the Indian market, we may also start exports,” Hibi said. “If this turns out to be successful, Sony may evaluate setting up its own plant in India,” he said. Sony exited India manufacturing in 2004 when it shut down its facility in Haryana that mostly made music systems and home theatres. This plant also used to make TV apart from audio products.
India’s free trade agreement with Southeast Asian nations had allowed imports at zero duty and since Sony had a poor market share of 3-4 per cent in televisions in the country, it decided to source them from Thailand, Malaysia, China and Japan rather thanproducing here.
Today, Sony is engaged in a neck-andneck fight with Samsung for supremacy in the Rs 20,000-crore flat panel television market in India where it has more than 25 per cent share. Rivals Samsung and LG already manufacture televisions in India. Smartphone manufacturers, too, plan to start manufacturing in India as the country is expected to overtake US to become the second-largest smartphone market by 2017.
Multinational brands Samsung and HTC already manufacture in the country while LG, Motorola and Xiaomi too evaluating prospects. There have been media reports that Foxconn is in talks with Apple to manufacture iPhone in India, and now Sony too is looking at the possibility of making smartphones in the country.