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Asahi Glass eyes India’s mobile market, anticipating a shift to locally-made smartphone components

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Nna/kyodo

In India, a country that is emerging as a mobile manufacturing hub, Asahi Glass Co. is looking to tap growing demand for advanced glass products to be used in smartphones and other electronic devices, according to company officials.

The leading maker of glass and high-tech materials, known as AGC, is planning to sell its cutting-edge products to India-based manufacturers of electronic devices, the officials said.

Among the products it hopes to sell are its Dragontrail glass — lightweight, flexible and scratch-resistant glass used as a protective cover for smartphones, tablet computers and ultra-books — and others used in phone cameras, the officials said.

“We mainly supply these products to the manufacturers of electronics devices like mobile phones and digital cameras in countries like China, Japan and the United States, but with mobile phone makers shifting their manufacturing bases to India, there’s a big market for our products in the country,” said Hisashi Takaso, managing director of AGC Asia Pacific (India) Pvt. Ltd., AGC’s Indian unit.

According to Takaso, some local mobile phone brands such as Micromax and Intex are already using imported Dragontrail glass in their phones.

The AGC officials attended the three-day India Mobile Congress 2017, the country’s first mobile, internet and technology event, which ended in New Delhi on Friday.

During the event, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that 100 new mobile manufacturing units have been set up in the country over the last three years.

According to industry experts, the government’s policy reforms, such as effective duties on key components along with attractive incentive structures, are some of the key factors driving up mobile manufacturing in the country.

In the next five years, mobile phone components worth more than $80 billion are likely to be consumed, with more than a billion smartphones expected to be sold in India during the period, according to a joint report by the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and market research firm Counterpoint Research issued in November last year.

“If these are not sourced or manufactured locally, they will need to be imported,” said the report, which estimates that by 2020 almost 96 percent of the phones that will be sold in India will be manufactured locally.