Naina KhedekarMay 20, 2016 17:52:52 IST
The past couple of days has the tech community enthusiastic about Tim Cook's India visit. From his Siddhivinayak visit to watching IPL match, Cook has been trying to warm up to the Indian audience. He has already announced a startup accelerator in Bengaluru and a development centre in Hyderabad, which according to him are the focus of his plans in India.
There were no brownie points for guessing where Apple would open its startup accelerator, as Bengaluru, the tech hub of India is the perfect place for a pool of talented engineers to contribute towards development of Apple products. Tim Cook has revealed plans to give developers access to tools to create innovative apps. Now, Apple's iOS ecosystem isn't high on awareness ranks in India. This move will help Apple's team to work, teach and inspire developers of this startup breeding city and others to hone their skills in a way that will help them work around or build innovative products around iOS, Mac and other Apple software.
The news has been pretty encouraging for startups not only in Bengaluru, but across the nation. Deepankar Garg, co-founder of Inoho, a startup building products for smart connected homes says it is great move. "Apple has great hardware and marketing. And, if that comes to Bangalore in some form, it could help the startup and developer community," he said. He also points out how Foxconn is reportedly making inroads to India and that could give the possibility of Apple-Foxconn teaming up for Indian market, just like we saw in China.
“Innovation is influenced by peer groups which in turn creates a challenging environment and that is the unfair advantage for startups in the valley. Bangalore’s Developer Community would be exposed to the best practices introduced by the Apple’s Accelerator which can help attract more and better talent and further elevate the city’s developer ecosystem," Karthik K S, founder and CEO, Avagmah, an edutech startup.
"We are excited, with such programs from none other than Apple, that our developers would now be able to build faster and higher quality apps than ever which takes better care of usability, security, speed, storage and data consumption. It will be great to have such centres in other software development hubs such as Delhi/NCR, Pune, etc. At the end, its the users who will benefit from such initiatives," Rahul Kumar Lodha, co-founder and CTO, Renomania.
Ashutosh Johri, co- founder, Baxi said, "Apple’s startup accelerator programs implies a fundamental belief in the ability of Indian companies and the developers to deliver products of international standard. The boost to local development on iOS, even though it would initially be for international customers, will also result in increased development capability at economical costs for the local needs of our own growing economy."
Giving iOS an Indian flavour
Apple isn't simply looking at India to drive sales, at least not at this point of time, but building a platform to make it happen in the near future. A Canalys report claims that despite the poor numbers, Apple showed 63 percent growth in India. So, it is looking to introduce its ecosystem to others with experience stores, refurbished devices (rejected by the company, so far) and eventually get them hooked onto the ecosystem and convert them into new users. Gupta had earlier explained how Apple stores may not necessarily drive sales but will help offer a platform to experience the Apple ecosystem and devices.
With an accelerator in Bengaluru, which is likely to be a 50,000 sq ft of office space in Yelahanka, North Bengaluru, one can already imagine a plush working space for all those developers who are looking to bring create apps to the Apple platform, but also those with a lack of clarity on the Apple ecosystem. "It is a really good move, providing developers with tools and a platform for those with lack of clarity on iOS or Apple related products," explains Anshul Gupta, Research Analyst, Gartner.
It may also help Apple as developers give its app ecosystem an Indian touch. Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Counterpoint Research explains, "Apple being an aspirational brand, associating with Apple ecosystem is the dream of many smartphone users and developers especially in India. By creating incubator Apple is planning to give iOS ecosystem an Indian flavor especially to tap Indian audience with respect to Apps. It’s pretty evident that Apple is considering India as a market which can drive the volume in future and hence taking steps to set up its operations."
Looking for growth and talent
Apple may not look at India to drive sales yet, but it definitely looks at it for growth and add innovation to its iOS platform. The company is also looking for talent and enthusiasts who are excited about Apple and its products. Apple already has offices in Bengaluru, and if the company plans for a store in Bangalore, a place like this would be easier to train them as potential Apple retail sales employees.
"Apple badly needs a growth engine. It will come either from the innovation in their products or developing a new geography. Sales from India are not likely to make up a huge proportion of their top-line but Apple has realized that conditions in India and its other markets have changed enough to take India market seriously. This initiative by Apple is among the first steps in that direction - others being opening a store, re-energizing their brand presence in India, piggy-backing on Foxconn investment (if and when it happens). All of these are part of a well-coordinated effort by Apple. They are trying to work the country at multiple levels from PM to Bollywood celebrities," explains Sharma.
"From latest India specific strategic moves of Apple, like opening of iOS stores, we can infer that Apple is getting pretty aggressive in tapping Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India," said Pathak.
It is the right time
Tim Cook's visit is no surprise, and the two big announcements already made are just a part of a bigger plan. No, it isn't instantly trying to drive sales here, but prepare to capture the Indian market in the coming year. After all, didn't he say that India is where China was 6-8 years ago. There is no doubt that this is a great move and a win-win situation for both the startup community and Apple. There could definitely be more than what meets the eye.
"This 'Make in India' era is a good period for any smartphone player to enter and invest in India because by doing so, these players can build emotional connect with Indian audience and strong professional association with government. So setting up incubators can be just start, we can expect much more from Apple when it comes to India centric strategies.” Pathak added.