After visiting iconic automaker Tesla Motors early on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on Apple CEO Tim Cook amid a buzz that the US tech giant is planning its push in India.
The Apple CEO dropped by Modi’s hotel in San Jose, before the PM was to join Mark Zuckerberg for a “townhall” session broadcast live from Facebook headquarters.
With only a tiny share of the world’s fastest-growing major smartphone market, Apple is stepping up its push into India, with a first targeted TV advertising campaign, expanded retail network and promotional financing schemes.
For years, India has been a low priority for Apple as spending power is weaker than in China, where the company’s iPhones swiftly became must-have devices after their 2007 launch.
But Apple is now looking to build on a 93% increase in its iPhone sales in India in April-June, which for the first time outpaced growth in China, of 87% — albeit from a low base. Apple has just a 2% share of India’s smartphone market, while South Korean rival Samsung Electronics accounts for around one third of volume sales with its range of Android phones.
A recent Reuters report said Foxconn Technology was in talks to manufacture Apple’s iPhone in India in a move that could lower prices in the world’s No.3 smartphone market.
India could help Foxconn mitigate accelerating wage inflation in China, where it makes the majority of iPhones, and base production sites closer to markets where its key clients want to grow.
Lower production costs could also help Foxconn keep hold of Apple orders amid intensifying competition with nimble manufacturing rivals such as Quanta Computer Inc.
Foxconn has said it is aiming to develop 10-12 facilities in India, including factories and data centres, by 2020, but had given no detail.
A return of Foxconn -- which was forced to shut up shop in India last year after client Nokia closed -- would be a major victory for India, which badly needs to turn its tech boom into a manufacturing and employment boost.
India, under PM Modi, has sought to reboot manufacturing, but the country is yet to rival China, particularly in technology where most factories will likely be assembly units to begin with.