In an important step in US tech giant Apple Inc’s push into the fast-growing smartphone market in South Asia, its local arm Apple India Pvt. Ltd has completed the trial run of the first ever iPhones assembled in India, according to a media report.
The Cupertino-based tech behemoth has kicked off the production of a small number of iPhone SE handsets in the country, reported The Wall Street Journal.
The trial run of assembling iPhones in India has been completed by the company’s Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corporation.
The first set of locally-assembled iPhone SE devices could be available at the stores this month, the financial newspaper reported.
However, the pricing of the locally-made device is yet to be ascertained.
Apple unveiled the iPhone SE in March last year. The four-inch smartphone was launched in the local market with a price tag of Rs 39,000 for the 16GB version. Currently, the phone is sold for less than Rs 30,000 at e-commerce platforms. Local manufacturing could help Apple further reduce the cost of the device in the domestic market.
Apple’s move to start manufacturing in India comes at a time when its sales in China—the company’s second-biggest market—are slowing.
Meanwhile, India’s smartphone market is rapidly expanding and the country is likely to overtake the US as the second-largest market in the world, as per a report by market research firm IDC.
Earlier this month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the company was strengthening its presence in India, but admitted that it was “underpenetrated” in the country. However, he said the expansion of 4G infrastructure in the country is a “huge opportunity for Apple”.
Several media reports said in January that Wistron Corp was seeking permission from the Karnataka government to expand its plant in Bengaluru.
In February, media reports said Apple was likely to assemble iPhones at a plant being set up by Wistron Corp at Peenya industrial area near Bengaluru.
In December 2016, Apple shared a list of demands with the Indian government seeking tax concessions, including lower import and manufacturing duties, and certain policy exemptions as prerequisites for setting up manufacturing operations in the country.
Currently, most of Apple’s products are assembled in China, primarily by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co which is trading as Foxconn Technology Group.
Apple Inc became the first US firm to top the $800 billion mark in market capitalisation on Tuesday, slightly more than two years after it crossed the $700 billion threshold.
The iPhone maker’s shares have gained 33% this year and almost 50% since the US presidential election in November. The company represents about 4% of the $21.7 trillion that makes up the S&P 500 index. Apple accounted for as much as 4.9% of the S&P 500 in September 2012 but is a smaller percentage now as the index as a whole has rallied more than 7% this year.
Apple recently opened its App Accelerator in Bengaluru. The centre allows developers to avail of tools and infrastructure to hone their skills, and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.