Apple has major plans for the Indian market: Tim Cook talks about AR, AI, manufacturing and more

Cook was proud to state that Apple could create about 7,50,000 iOS developer ecosystem-related jobs in India.

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited India one year back. At the time, the India visit was being referred to as a critical move from the company as it had failed to capture the developing Indian market. The reason why this was important was because the company was looking to create a strong foothold in one of the fastest growing markets in the smartphone industry.

Tim Cook in this file photo. Reuters

Tim Cook in this file photo. Reuters

During the visit, Cook met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, partied with Shahrukh Khan, attended an IPL match, met ICICI Bank CEO Chandra Kochhar and met Telangana CM K Chandra Sekhar Rao. Another reason for the visit was that Apple was facing declining sales in the United States and China, two of its largest markets in terms of users.

Local manufacturing

In a recent interview with The Hindu, Cook spoke about where the company stands after one year of the visit and what one can expect from the company in terms of long term strategy. Cook began with pointing out that Apple is looking at scaling its manufacturing effort in India. He stated that Apple is looking at increased volumes and ‘more products’, hinting at more locally manufactured devices. He admitted that the company has its work cut out to make sure that its plans work. However, he was confident about progress and that everything was ‘headed in the right direction’.

Cook was proud to state that Apple could create about 7,50,000 iOS developer ecosystem-related jobs in India. He stated that he was excited about the upcoming Apple AR Kit along with the improved 4G connectivity in the country because of the rise of Reliance Jio. He also stated that he is excited about how the entertainment market in India will take advantage of AR Kit.

Pre-owned iPhones and retail stores

Cook told The Hindu that Apple is looking at developing its pre-owned retail outlets for customers in addition to a healthy app ecosystem for developers. Cook went on to add that the company is hoping to reach an agreement with the Indian government regarding the import and sale of pre-owned iPhone devices. Apple has not given up on the idea to introduce ‘pre-owned iPhones’ on the Indian market. He stated that Apple just needs to do a better job at explaining the advantages associated with the program.

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Local investments and growth

Talking about the investments in local businesses, Cook did not rule out the possibility. He pointed out that the company is intrigued by the concept of a ‘sharing economy’ with companies in transportation and accommodation. It will be open to any opportunity that presents itself in the Indian market. Addressing the comparisons with China and its growth, the Apple CEO pointed out that the company is not focusing on selling them in volume.

Image Credit: Apple

Image Credit: Apple

Instead, the company will focus on quality products to gradually build the market. He admitted that India was years behind in terms of infrastructure, but that the growth in the last one year has convinced him that the country ‘has an exceptional future.’ Apple is planning to setup retail, manufacturing, and indirect channels along with maps development centre in the country. It is hoping to get the flexibility to move money between businesses with ease.

India-centric features in iOS

Another important aspect Cook emphasised was the fact that Apple is working to improve localisation with its upcoming iOS 11. These efforts include the addition of Hindi to the operating system along with the introduction of Cricket to Siri.

Image Credit: Apple

Image Credit: Apple

Competition from China

When asked about competition from Chinese smartphone makers, Cook stated that he does not worry about the growth that the competition has achieved. Apple will focus on making a streamlined, easy-to-use ecosystem along with capable hardware to support the software. The company followed the same strategy in China to achieve success and it is hoping to repeat the same in India.

AR and AI

Commenting about the upcoming AR revolution Cook added that the company is planning to bring this technology to the masses. The interesting thing about AR is the wide scope of fields that this technology will be relevant to, ranging from enterprise use, gaming, learning to healthcare and more. He stated the example of ‘Pokémon Go’ to point out how mixing the virtual world with the physical world can change the user experience for users.

He also added his thoughts on the controversy regarding AI and the concerns about AI exceeding human intelligence. According to him, technology companies and governments should be responsible for the development of AI including the consequences of the actions of that AI system. Cook pointed out that AI is likely to exceed human capabilities in some fields, but that one cannot predict what those fields will be. He clarified that Apple actively tries to anticipate the growth of its AI-based assistant Siri to ensure that AI is used for good and eliminate any bad use-case scenarios during development.

Image Credit: Apple

Image Credit: Apple

Cook pointed out that AI and machine learning is only possible because of significant leaps in GPU technology. Closing off the interview, he stated that Apple will stay true to its DNA, which includes integrating software, hardware and services to deliver a compelling experience. The company will expand its portfolio but at the same time, it will stay true to its core products because of the good quality and long life of the current portfolio.

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