Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to make his first visit to India tomorrow to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and announce the company’s plans for the country. .
The visit comes at a time when Apple is witnessing slowing sales in the West as well as China, which had emerged as the biggest market for the company outside the US.
This will be Cook’s first official visit to India as Apple CEO. He will fly to the country from China, where he is currently visiting just days after the company announced a $1 billion investment in the local ride-hailing app and Uber’s main rival Didi Chuxing.
Sources told Mashable that Cook will be visiting multiple cities in India, and the meeting with Modi is likely to happen towards the end of the visit.There is a possibility that Apple might make an announcement about its India plans during his visit.
India was the one of the few silver linings in Apple’s dismal earnings last quarter.Though it only only has a 2% share in the fast-growing Indian smartphone market, its sales have grown by 56% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016. It was preceded by 76% growth in the last quarter of 2015
Apple’s strategy for the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing smartphone market also hinges on the company opening its first retail stores in India. Apple is likely to get governmental approval for this, after a panel recommended a special exemption from the country’s mandatory local sourcing norms.
Cook had met PM Modi last year during the latter’s visit to the Silicon Valley.
Cook had met PM Modi last year during the latter’s visit to the Silicon Valley, where the two had discussed local manufacturing plans under Modi’s Make in India initiative. The government has increased import duties in successive budgets, to discourage imports from China and push companies to manufacture locally. Apple has been at the receiving end of the policy, as a result of which itsiPhones sold in India are among the most expensive in the world
Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, is already present in India and has been reportedly scouting locations for setting up a manufacturing base for Apple in Maharashtra, a state in the western part of India. It could be possible that Apple could make some announcement related to its manufacturing plans during Cook’s visit.
However, Apple’s ambitions in India recently received a setback when the Indian government rejected the company’s request to import and sell refurbished iPhones at a cheaper price in India. The refurbished iPhones would have helped the company reach more consumers in India’s price-sensitive smartphone market.
In the past, Cook has spoken about the untapped opportunities in India, arguing that India is currently where China was seven to ten years ago in terms of network and market economics.
“India is also incredibly exciting,” Cook said earlier this year. “The population of India is incredibly young… Almost half the people in India are below 25. And so I see the demographics there also being incredibly great for a consumer brand and for people that really want the best products.”
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