Maps Centre in Hyderabad and more: What to possibly expect from Tim Cook's India visit

But that's not the only reason, and the company is also said to be looking at local production to be a part of PM Modi's Make in India initiative, a possible accelerator program and more. Let's look at them one by one.


Apple head honcho Tim Cook has been on a visit to neighboring China to meet the company heads of Didi Chuxing, the ride-sharing app in which Apple has invested $1 bn. But reports have been doing the rounds that he now plans to make a surprise visit to India. However, some reports floating online hint it could have been a well-planned visit to meet PM Modi over the recent conundrum over selling refurbished iPhones.

First reported by Reuters, the visit is believed to come at a crucial time as Apple looks for growth markets after its first ever decline in iPhone sales. But that's not the only reason, and the company is also said to be looking at local production unit to be a part of PM Modi's Make in India initiative, a possible accelerator program and more. Let's look at them one by one.

Maps centre in Hyderabad, accelerator in Bengaluru 

Cook is believed to unveil a new development center for digital maps in Hyderabad, according to Livemint. The report, and also some previous reports, have been hinting at Apple's plans to introduce a startup accelerator in Bengaluru. It is said this will be a first of its kind initiative from Apple to incubate startups with ideas around iOS, and Apple's other software services. An accelerator program makes sense as Apple sees India at the same position where China was 6-8 year ago. It also clearly shows that India is now looked upon as an important market for Apple.

Meetings and discussions

Some reports also highlight Cook is set to meet telcos in the bid to look for partnerships for distribution and sales of its devices. Besides, he will also be meeting politicians and some leading businessmen In the earnings call, Tim Cook had explained how LTE rollout (in India) has been one of the factors that has been holding Apple back, as the potential and the power of its mighty devices cannot be unleashed on 2G. But with good networks coming in, things could change, he had said back then. He had also spoken about problems related to building good retail channels as phones are not tied to carriers here, like in developed nations. Now, citing sources related to the matter, the ET report further adds that Airtel is in talks with Apple and looking to team up for ‘distribution/selling through retail stores, offers on devices and even training of personnel’.

Apple Stores

We've been hearing about Apple's plans to bring its exclusive stores to India. In the past few months, we've heard of applications and re-applications being submitted to the government, talks with brokers for plush large format stores and more.

While it was unknown when the stores could likely make it to India, a new report by FactorDaily, citing sources, claims that Apple will be launching three stores in India over the next 18 months. While we've been trying to figure out where Apple could possibly open its stores, the new report also adds that locations are likely to be the Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

While Delhi and Mumbai were believed to be the top contenders in the Apple Stores race, Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research had told us how other factors such as a city with capable tech support for Apple centres and corporate offices, hints at Bengaluru, which is also known as the tech hub of India being yet another contender.

“The idea is to drive a large audience to experience the premium devices, and its not about sales. It  is about an experience store wherein people and come and experience the devices and the ecosystem,” Gogia had explained.

Refurbished iPhones

Another reason could be meet officials related to making policies and talk about its recently rejected plan to sell refurbished devices in India. India is the second largest phone market and Apple has only 2 percent market share here. Now, with slump in global shipments and slowing China market, the company is looking for inroads to sell its devices in India, which are priced too high for the price conscious Indian market. However, the Cupertino company's plans were denied by the Indian government.

It is said that rivals had a campaign against Apple’s request as it could mean making way to a slew of used electronics into the country, which will hamper the Make in India initiative. Afterall, the motive of Make in India is to encourage local manufacturing.

“Apple is looking at India as a market which has potential to drive volumes for the Cupertino giant in future and hence taking steps to ramp up its operations. But unlike USA and China, India has been a highly price-conscious market with almost 70% of the smartphone sales being below $150. As a result, Apple’s higher priced iPhone portfolio has limited Apple’s opportunity to grow at the same pace as the market.As a result of this it is realigning its strategy in India to capture young highly aspirational audience through discounting previous flagships and at the same time expanding its reach within India," explains Tarun Pathak, Sr Analyst, Counterpoint Research.

"With apple ecosystem being robust than ever there is potentially a higher chance that the young consumers of its products and services become more mature smartphone users and  hence an opportunity for Apple to upgrade them in near future," Pathak adds.

Set up local production

One of the announcements during Cook's visit might be around setting up local manufacturing plant in India. Apple is said to be close to inking a deal with Foxconn and the Indian government to start its manufacturing plant in India, exclusively for Apple products. Most companies have kickstarted their Make in India plans aligned with PM Modi's initiative. Apple, though slightly behind in the race, is now catching up in the bid to woo price sensitive Indian market as its global and China market has started to plateau.

"Apple has to control external factors which impact its pricing and this can very well be one of the agenda during discussion. Apart from this not only from manufacturing point of view Apple’s investment in India can range from R&D , investment in startup ecosystem and strengthening its partner network," Pathak adds.

 

 

There have been no confirmed reports as to when Cook is expect to land in India. We have only heard that it may be sometime this week or even today. So we can wait and watch.


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