In a bid to gain foothold in the fast-growing Indian smartphone market, Apple on Wednesday announced commencement of initial production of its popular iPhone SE model at its Bengaluru facility. "We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SE in Bengaluru. iPhone SE is the most popular and powerful phone with a four-inch display in the world and we'll begin shipping to domestic customers this month," Apple told IANS in an email.
IANS also learnt that to begin with, it will be a trial run with small quantities of iPhone SE units being assembled at the facility. Apple has begun assembling iPhone SE models with Wistron Corporation, its Taiwanese manufacturing partner. In February, Karnataka's Minister of State for IT Priyank Kharge had said that Apple plans to make its iPhones in Bengaluru. "An Apple team discussed with us its proposal to set up a plant in Bengaluru to make iPhones for the Indian and global markets," said Kharge.
The Apple team, led by iPhone Operations Vice-President Priya Balasubramaniam, Government Affairs Head Ali Khanafer, iPhone Operations Director Dheeraj Chugh and Country Counsel Priyesh Povanna had discussed the proposals with the state officials in the presence of the minister. According to latest data from consumer knowledge and insights firm Kantar Worldpanel, India is a key country for Apple moving forward.
"Apple accounted for 3 percent of sales in the most recent period but has recently made several strategic moves in India, including teaming up with Reliance Jio to offer free 4G service for one year to purchasers of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple is also planning to manufacture iPhones in India in the near future to deflect some of the high import taxes that make iPhones inaccessible to many Indian buyers," the report stated.
Apple iPhone 5S has also emerged as the top premium smartphone in seven states while other versions of iOS-driven devices occupy the top five premium spots in non-metro states. Apple has been eyeing India for a greater pie of its growing smartphones market. According to the latest data from IDC, Samsung leads in the market with a 28.1 percent share, followed by Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, Vivo, Lenovo and Oppo.