India’s aggressive push to become an electronics manufacturing hub may soon receive some much needed impetus. Taiwan-based Wistron, one of Apple’s largest electronics component supplier, could soon start assembling iPhone PCBs in India, says a Reuters report citing sources.
Wistron is currently assembling the older, iPhone SE models in India. While most of those phones are meant for domestic consumption, a significant portion is also being exported. The new PCB facility however, could well be used to assemble components for the latest iPhone models as well.
The report further mentions, that this PCB plan is a part of the over $420 million investment proposal that Wistron submitted to the state government of Karnataka in 2018. Wistron already has an assembly plant near India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru and plans to install this additional capacity at that very plant. Wistron’s bigger rival Foxconn already manufactures iPhone XR models in the country. While these are meant for domestic markets, a significant portion is exported to south east Asian markets as well.
PCBs or Printed Circuit Boards, for those unaware, are the platform over which other smartphone components like processors, RAM etc. are laid on. Once complete, PCBs generally account for more than half of the cost of any smartphone. If Wistron does go ahead with this rumored plan, it would mean significant reduction in prices for iPhones in India.
Smartphone makers, who are importing key components to India, are set to see increased tariffs, as announced by India’s central government in their annual budget presentation last Friday. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced plans to increase taxes on imports of populated PCBs at a higher 20%, from the previous rate of 10%.
At the same time, the Govermment is also in the process of providing greater benefits to smartphone OEMs, if they start producing locally in the country. Among these benefits are subsidised loans, special economic zone with plug and play infrastructure facilities, single window clearance for major regulations etc.
On the consumer end. this would further help Apple increase share in the world’s second largest smartphone market. By recent numbers, Apple does not feature even in Top 5, owing to high ownership costs in the country. Chinese manufacturers continue to dominate the Indian smartphone market, with 4 of the top 5 belonging to India’s northern neighbour.