Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants Apple Inc. to manufacture iPhones in India instead of pushing its plan to sell refurbished pre-owned handsets, according to officials familiar with discussions he had with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Saturday.
On a four-day maiden India visit that came amid declining sales of iPhones globally, Cook met with Modi to push for sale of pre-owned refurbished iPhones – a proposal that has yet to find favour with the Indian government since it was first mooted and rejected during the UPA regime.
Although Apple has no plan to make iPhones here, Cook agreed to explore Modi’s proposal. Apple will unlikely benefit from manufacturing of iPhones in India, analysts have said, citing the price-sensitive nature of the Indian market and the low volumes of iPhone sales here. India accounts for just 1% of global iPhone sales and Apple’s share of India’s mobile handset sales is just 1.5%.
Globally, Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn makes iPhones. There have been media reports that Foxconn wants to make Apple devices with a $10-billion plant in Maharashtra, the state that took up much of Cook’s time during his visit.
“The PM made it clear that refurbished phones were not India’s immediate focus as he was conscious that these phones would wipe out low cost Indian phone manufacturers,” said a senior official. Besides, there remain concerns over managing e-waste that result from second-hand electronic goods.
Modi also sought Apple’s support for the government’s Digital India initiative, with focus on e-education, health and increasing farmers’ incomes, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
In an exchange of tweets that followed their 30-minute meeting, Modi and Cook praised each other.
“Thank you @tim_cook! Friends, welcome and happy volunteering. Your views and efforts are always enriching,” Modi tweeted. The Apple CEO replied: “Thanks @narendramodi for a great meeting. Already looking forward to next visit to India.”
Cook also launched an updated version of the Narendra Modi app, which helps Indian citizens connect with their leader.
“I am delighted to share that Tim Cook launched an updated version of the ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App’,” Modi tweeted. “I urge you to have a look at the new feature ‘My Network’ that empowers you to contribute on lively and enriching forums where you can share your ideas and deliberate with others. You will also enjoy the daily tasks on the app”.
Cook’s packed India itinerary, which ended Saturday, included meetings with top business leaders, opening of new Apple facilities in Hyderabad and Bengaluru and a visit to SiddhiVinayak temple. He also watched an IPL match in Kanpur and partied with Shah Rukh Khan at his Mumbai home.