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Corning-Optiemus JV to roll out 1st Made in India smartphone glass by 2024

Initially, the smartphone cover glasses will be given premium finishing in the new facility to be built as part of the 70:30 joint venture between Optiemus and Corning

Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

Ashutosh Mishra New Delhi

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India's first high-quality finished smartphone cover glass factory, co-owned by domestic electronics manufacturer Optiemus Infracom and global glass major Corning, is likely to come up in Telangana or Tamil Nadu and start operations by the end of 2024.

Initially, the smartphone cover glasses will be given premium finishing in the new facility to be built as part of the 70:30 joint venture between Optiemus and Corning. The new entity has been named as Bharat Innovation Glass (BIG).

The facility may begin operations in 2024 with a production capacity of 30 million pieces for the first phase. It is likely to provide employment to 500-700 skilled workers. Cover glasses for front and back panels of smartphones will be processed in the Indian factory.

"As of now we have zeroed in on Telangana and Tamil Nadu, because of some factors such as sea port and other support," Ashok Kumar Gupta, chairman of Optiemus Infracom, said while speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

The joint venture has sought support from the central government. It has already applied for incentives under the Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS), according to John Bayne, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mobile Consumer Electronics at Corning Incorporated. SPECS provides a financial incentive of 25 per cent on capital expenditure for the identified list of electronic goods that comprise the downstream value chain of electronic products.

"The cutting, then ion-exchange, the finishing of the edges, the inspection, the decoration will be done in India. Over time, once we have the scale, we would consider bringing the original glass sheet manufacturing here as well," Bayne said.

India has risen to the second position in smartphone exports in the last few years but still lags behind in sourcing components locally. With around 600 million smartphone users that are growing at a rapid pace, producing components locally could bring advantages to the companies and end-users.

"With the evolving world, you keep getting new news every day. The world seems to be getting crazier. So having a local supply chain is probably a good thing, and second, you avoid a lot of logistics and shipping costs, so you can do it and avoid costs and offer more economic products to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who are assembling their phones here in India," added Bayne.

Indian mobile phone exports crossed the Rs 30,000 crore mark during the April-June quarter, registering over 100 per cent growth year-on-year. In FY23, mobile phone exports surpassed Rs 90,000 crore, an increase of 100 per cent from Rs 45,000 crore in FY22.

The overall local value addition remains at around 15 per cent, trailing behind countries like Brazil (20-22 per cent), Vietnam (30-33 per cent), and China (50-52 per cent).

"This is the first step towards our vision to start the cover glass manufacturing in India, and as soon as we are settled, surely we would like to go for exports. It is our vision that every person who wants to have a premium phone must have gorilla glass finished cover glass manufactured by this joint venture," Gupta said on the new collaboration.

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First Published: Oct 26 2023 | 7:45 PM IST

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