Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook, who is on his maiden visit to India, said on Friday it was “exactly the right time” to be in the country and that the US firm is looking to be in the market for “hundreds” of years.
Cook’s visit comes at a time when the US technology giant is hit by slower growth in global sales of its flagship products and as telecom firms are rolling out 4G high-speed internet services, Apple is betting big on India as a growth market.
In a recent analyst conference, Cook said India presents a “really great opportunity” for Apple but slow networks and the informal retail structure is preventing the tech giant from realising its full potential.
“Journey starts with the first step. We are not here for a year or few years, we are here for a long time, 100s of years. And we are a long term company. The thing that we make the most focus is iPhone. It’s a key part,” Cook told NDTV.
He added that in order to bring out the “richness” of the iPhone, 4G network is very important.
“4G network is beginning to come in now. I think it’s exactly the right time to be here,” Cook said.
Apple has already announced it will set up a new app design and development accelerator facility in Bengaluru as well as a centre in Hyderabad to focus on development of maps in India.
Cook, who is on a four-day trip to India, is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. He met Modi at a Silicon Valley event in the US last September, where they discussed manufacturing plans under Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
His also itinerary includes meetings with government officials as well as representatives from India Inc.
The Apple CEO flew to the country from China, where Apple announced a $1 billion investment in the local ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing.
Cook said in a recent earnings call that he viewed “India as where China was maybe seven to 10 years ago from that point of view, and I think there’s a really great opportunity there.”
His visit to India assumes importance given that the company’s iPhones are seeing fast growth here, even as growth has tapered in developed markets. Hit by slower growth in the sale of its flagship products iPhone, iPad and Mac globally, Apple’s revenue dropped for the first time since 2003 as the tech giant released earning reports for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 in March.
Revenue was down in both Americas and China -- Apple’s two biggest territories. It declined around 10% in the Americas and 26% in China.
India is world’s third-largest smartphone market with over 100 million smartphones sold last year and is projected to grow 25% this year. Sales of iPhones in India rose 56% in the January-March quarter even as global sales slipped 16%. But Apple’s iPhone has only a 2% market share.
Cupertino-based technology major is now focusing on new growth markets like India.
In an interview earlier this month, Cook said Apple sees a “huge market potential” for its products in India and that it is “really putting energy” in the country.
Cook said earlier that the company was placing “increasing emphasis” on emerging markets like India, where there will be “disproportionate growth versus the more developed areas.”
(With agency inputs)