It's cult following in the West notwithstanding, Apple Inc has found fewer takers for its products in India, a market hailed as one of the last high growth harbours for mobile handsets in the world. Indian consumers' price sensitivity aside, the lack of sales and marketing push from the company itself has largely been blamed for Apple's underwhelming performance in the country. Apple had a less than 2% market share in India's mobile handset market in 2015. The maiden visit of Tim Cook, the company's CEO who took up the mantle after the death of Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, is likely to mark the beginning of a new chapter for the one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Here are five things Cook is likely to accomplish during his first India visit.
A manufacturing facility
During his much-awaited meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 21, Cook is expected to announce local manufacturing partnerships in the country, a move likely to be seen as a big endorsement for Modi's pet project 'Make in India'. Cook and Modi had met at a Silicon Valley event in the US last September, where they discussed manufacturing plans under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Citing government sources, The Reuters said that Modi is likely to press Cook to set up production facilities in India, as part of the government's plan to find jobs for millions of Indians joining the workforce every year.
Last year in August, Adani group said in a filing to the stock exchanges that it is talks with Foxconn, Apple's largest global manufacturing partner, to form a joint-venture with to manufacture Apple products in the country.
New accelerator facility
The company has decided to establish a Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru to support engineering talent and accelerate growth in the country's iOS developer community. The facility will help iOS developers create innovative apps for the company's customers globally and the new facility will provide resources to support entrepreneurs.
"India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world...With the opening of this new facility in Bengaluru, we're giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world,” Cook said in the statement.
The iOS App Design and Development Accelerator is expected to open in early 2017.
"Putting energy" in India
At a time when Apple is standing the risk of losing its status as the world's most valuable company to Google's parent Alphabet and is struggling with the declining sales of iPhones in several key territories across the world such as the US, a market like India could help the company accelerate its growth. Cook is betting big on India to become a multi-billion dollar market for the company. Earlier this month, Cook said that Apple will be "really putting energy" in India. During this visit, he may unveil an India strategy.
Meeting business partners
Cook is also expected to meet several industry leaders such as Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal, Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry, Vodafone India CEO Sunil Sood and Tata Consultancy Services CEO N Chandrasekaran. As per a news report, Bharti Airtel was in discussion with Apple for a broader strategic tie-up, which may include options such as distribution or selling Apple products through retail stores, offers on devices and even training of personnel. Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile operator and Reliance Jio Infocomm, are the two key targets for Apple's iPhone strategy in the country as the two are planning to start nationwide commercial 4G services this year. It is expected that the widening 4G network in the country will not only boost iPhone sales, but also that of iPads and Apple TV.
The Development Centre
Cook is expected to inaugurate the development centre in Hyderabad on May 19. The company had announced in February that it will be opening a new development office in Hyderabad with over 150 employees. The Hyderabad facility will commence operations on one lakh square feet leased space in WaveRock, a building that is owned by real estate company Tishman Speyer at Nanakramguda. Apple earlier stated that its technology development center will be coming up with an investment of $ 25 million and is likely to employ about 4,500 people over a period.
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