Bad news for Pixel fans in India — shortly after the global launch of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL today, Google announced that they would not be bringing the new Pixels to the sub-continent.
A Google spokesperson stated that the company, “has a wide range of products that we make available in different regions around the world. We determine availability based on a variety of factors, including local trends, and product features. We decided not to make Pixel 4 available in India. We remain committed to our current Pixel phones and look forward to bringing future Pixel devices to India.”
While Google has not explicitly given a reason, the decision is rumored to be due to the Pixel 4’s headline feature, Project Soli, which is a radar-based motion-sensing chip that depends on using the 60GHz mmWave frequency band. This frequency band is not open for unlicensed civilian usage in India, and the company has seemingly not been able to secure permission from Indian authorities to use it.
In the US, the FCC approved Project Soli earlier this year, and the 60GHz frequency is unlicensed and usable, so Pixel 4 is already up for pre-order.
In India, the local TRAI recommendation in 2014 was to allow for opening up the 60GHz frequency band but it still remains locked and only permitted for military projects. As a result, Google is unable to sell the phone in the country. Disabling the Soli chip won’t be enough either as the mere presence of the 60GHz radar hardware itself is not allowed under current Indian laws.
An alternative available to Google would be to create a different variant of the Pixel 4 without the Soli hardware, but that would have further complicated the entire Pixel experience just for one market.
The Project Soli chip in the Pixel 4 allows for some cool features on the phone, such as the ability to detect human interactions, and recognize gestures, so you could wave your hand to silence a call or skip a song.
At the event today, VP of Product Management at Google Sabrina Ellis even claimed that this allows Pixel 4 to have “the fastest secure face unlock on a smartphone, because the process starts before you have even picked up the smartphone.”
According to research firm Counterpoint, over 99 percent of smartphones shipped in India last year were powered by Android. India is the second largest smartphone market in the world, so Google would be missing out for opting to not sell the Pixel 4. Here’s to hoping Google manages to get permission from the local Indian authorities, because there’s a lot to love about the kind of innovation that the Pixel 4 brings along.
Apple is preparing to open its first stores in India
Based on new job listings
For one of the largest smartphone markets in the world, India is one of the rarer countries where Apple does not outright dominate. Undoubtedly, the company is trying to change that. Ongoing job listings in India are suggesting that Apple is ready to open its first brick-and-mortar store in the country.
First reported by Financial Times, Apple has posted job openings in India for several retail roles including for the iconic Genius Bar. Another clue even indicates that some spots have already been filled ahead of time. A few employees in the country have reportedly posted about their new jobs on LinkedIn.
Unfortunately, none of the job listings show how many stores are planned and where they will be. Narrowing things down by a bit, a few of the confirmed employees are from Mumbai and New Delhi. The report also does not indicate when the stores will open. However, since a few have already been hired, a grand opening might be coming soon.
Apple has a lot to gain by strengthening its foothold in India. The country is an important stronghold for smartphone companies. However, the company might find things harder as time goes by. The country recently dictated that brands must switch to USB-C if they want to sell their devices in India. All over the world, Apple remains the last stalwart against adopting the more universal standard.
India to enforce USB-C on all phones by 2024
Smartphones and wearables affected
Last year, the European Union made a lot of waves by announcing the impending enforcement of USB-C across all devices sold in the region. Other countries, such as Brazil, joined in by pondering its own version of the same policy. Then, as 2022 wound to a definitive close, India, skipping a more deliberative phase, has announced a sweeping enforcement of USB-C coming in 2025.
In approximately two years’ time, most devices sold within India must use USB-C ports (via Business Standard). More specifically, Indian lawmakers have included smartphones and wearables as part of the new policy. Like policies in other countries, India’s policy revolves around the drive to reduce e-waste from devices.
Naturally, as is the case in other countries, Apple is the brand most affected by the ruling. While most Android-based smartphones already use USB-C across the board, Apple’s device still rely on the proprietary Lightning cable, severing a significant chunk of the populating from the more universal standard.
The country is nothing to shrug off, either. India is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world. Though Android is much more prevalent than Apple, India’s new policy is certainly a significant speed bump for the iPhone maker.
Though Apple has publicly protested against the new policies, the company has also confirmed that it will comply with the new rules. While it has a slightly lengthier timeframe in India, the brand has to comply in the European Union by the end of 2024.
India might force Apple to adopt USB-C soon
Exploratory talks have started
It’s the world versus Apple. After years and years of proprietary hardware, Apple is finally facing a deluge of pressure to abandon the Lightning cable. The entire European Union have already decided to force device markers, particularly Apple, to adopt the universal standard, USB-C. Now, another country is joining in: India.
As reported by Mint, the Indian government has started holding exploratory talks with manufacturers to discuss the possibility of a common charging standard. While the talks aren’t decisive yet, it’s the first step towards legislation moving in favor of a standard.
Though the wording remains vague, a lot of pressure is on Apple. The iPhone maker is still one of the biggest opponents against adopting USB-C worldwide. Amid the company’s growing gallery of USB-C devices, the Lightning cable is still alive and well. A lot of other manufacturers have already moved on to the standard for its their ports.
Soon, the company might not have a choice. If a decisive law is passed, India will join the European Union and Brazil in potentially forcing Apple into the standard. It’s not an insignificant ally for the pro-USB-C camp, either. India is one of the biggest smartphone markets in the world.
Apple is unlikely to launch a USB-C iPhone series this year. The company is already expected to launch the next series in a few weeks’ time. If such a phone is coming, it might debut as soon as next year.
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