Apple CEO is on Asia tour and India is the next leg of his tour where he will be staying for the remainder this week arriving late Tuesday. Apple India spokesperson Anand Bhaskaran has confirmed Tim Cook’s visit to India (via TOI) without divulging any further details of his itinerary.
Tim Cook is expected to meet the Indian PM Narendra Modi on Saturday while spending rest of this week meeting with employees, trade partners, and industry executives. He is also expected to meet Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal in addition to top executives of Reliance Industries.
It is noteworthy that it will be the first visit of Cook to India since he took over as CEO in 2011 after Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During this time, he has largely followed his predecessor’s thinking of keeping India out of focus for the premium products of Apple and instead, focussing on China.
Apple was launched in India only a couple of years back and during this time, has managed to capture about 2% of market share. However, things are rapidly changing with a global slowdown in smartphone shipments with an exception of India which remains one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world.
In fact, India emerged as the only growth area (recording 56% year over year growth) during Apple’s recent earnings call which saw its global iPhone sales drop for the first time in 13 years.
Tim Cook has already admitted that India is in a place where China was 7-8 years back and holds immense potential for the company. Moreover, with 4G internet set to expand in the country in 2016, it becomes even more important for the Cupertino giant to focus on the country.
Apple recently got a setback to its plans of selling refurbished iPhones in the country which was turned down by government officials. However, the company also got a nod for opening its own retail stores.
During his visit to India and meeting with Modi, we may see an official confirmation to the same. Recently, the government had waived off the mandatory 30% local sourcing condition for Apple due to its cutting edge technology paving a way for its own retail stores in the country.
India can also expect Cook to get associated with Make In India plan of Modi and manufacture iPhones in India. Its manufacturer contractor Foxconn is already operating its plants in India and manufacturing phones for Xaiomi.
However, according to sources, this may not happen immediately as Apple feels that India still does not have the critical mass to support local manufacturing right now.
In addition to above, Apple is also reportedly exploring a number of other options particularly those related to the startup ecosystem in the country. The company is considering to launch an accelerator programme for local startups and Cook may make an announcement for the same during his visit .